Twelfth rioters handed down a total of over five years jail
Five rioters, including the grandson of republican paramilitary leader Brendan Hughes, were today handed a total of five years and four months in custody.
Belfast Crown Court heard that as a crowd of rioters launched missiles at police lines near Broadway roundabout in the early hours of July 12 last year, 19-year-old Hughes also indecently exposed himself to the riot police.
In sending the five men to custody, Judge David McFarland said while they all had clear criminal records, it was his reluctant position to take a strong line on sectarian rioters in the hope that media coverage will send out the clear signal for people not to engage in rioting this summer.
Earlier prosecuting lawyer Robin Street told him that a range of police units including riot police, a dog unit and water cannon had been deployed to contain the mob that had gathered at the top of the Broadway Road just before midnight and began making its way down the road in the direction of the loyalist Glenmachan Street area of the Village.
He described how the police came under attack from the mob who threw stones, bottles and bits of masonry but that police succeeded in pushing them back up along the Falls Road where they dispersed for a period.
Mr Steer added however that a crowd of around 50 then re-emerged and began attacking police for a second time but were again dispersed and it was this point that police, using a mix of CCTV footage from a PSNI Land Rover and identification by officers on duty, began making arrests.
Hughes, who at that time was living rough on the streets in the area, but now with an address at Shanvis Court in the city was arrested and initially denied he had been involved but after being shown the CCTV footage, he admitted his involvement and later pleaded guilty to charges of riot and indecent exposure.
Turning to 20-year-old Shaun McCann, from Whiterock Gardens, Mr Steer told the court he was detained in nearby Ard-na-Va by officers after he was also identified on CCTV footage, adding that cops believed he was a 'main instigator' of the volley of missiles that were being launched at police.
When arrested he protested, "It's my first time, it's my first time," the lawyer told the court.
Thomas Murray (21) of Cavendish Street was seen by police to have arrived on the scene during the ongoing riots and although arrested with stones in his pockets, Mr Steer said he had not been seen throwing anything but added his younger brother Martin was 'very prolific' in the attacks on police.
Despite this role 19-year-old Martin Murray, also from Cavendish Street, had pleaded guilty to riot at arraignment and had apologised to officers at the scene.
Mr Steer told the court that Martin Downey was witnessed by a police CCTV operator in the area approaching police lines with two bottles in his hands, one of which he handed to another man and encouraging him to launch it at police, which he did, but he was not accused of taking any further role in the disturbances.
Downey, a 35-year-old father-of-five from the Ross Road pleaded guilty to encouraging or assisting riot.
Hughes, McCann and Martin Murray were handed 16 months in custody with time on licence while Thomas Murray and Downey were sentenced to ten and six months each respectively.
Belfast Telegraph Digital