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‘Spiderman’ who scaled Belfast's Big Wheel avoids jail

A traveller who climbed to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel in a protest over housing rights has received a six month suspended jail sentence.

Patrick Joyce was told his actions caused great inconvenience to the public, the emergency services and others trapped on the tourist attraction.

Joyce (38) had been found guilty of disorderly behaviour and aggravated trespass by scaling 200ft to the summit of the wheel in the grounds of City Hall last June.

Joyce claimed during a hearing at Belfast Magistrate’s Court that he had not cared about the risk of falling to his death, and would do the same again.

The father-of-five said his actions, following years of racial abuse and attacks, were aimed at highlighting the accommodation problems of Travellers.

But prosecutors accused him of showing no concern for five people held in pods for nearly three hours as fire crews were brought in during a drama which brought central Belfast to a halt.

With details disclosed of previous incidents where Joyce climbed a crane and hung from a motorway flyover, he was likened to a “Travelling Spiderman”.

In a plea before sentencing, his solicitor Mark O'Connor called for a conditional discharge.

Mr O'Connor said: “He contends the reason he climbed the wheel on the day in question was that he was simply protesting in respect of housing rights. Mr Joyce would say he simply had no choice but to climb the wheel.”

The lawyer told the court his client's actions had the “desired effect”, with his family now allowed to live on land with appropriate toilet facilities.

He was said to be happier and planning to leave his mother's home in Belfast’s Oldpark area to be reunited with his children.

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