Derry rioter recognised by police officer faces sentencing
A petrol bomber who was recognised by police when he removed a mask from his face during a night of sustained rioting in Londonderry is to be sentenced tomorrow.
John Paul Moore (23), whose address was given as care of Maghaberry Prison, pleaded guilty to a charge of riotous assembly, to five charges of possessing petrol bombs in suspicious circumstances and to four charges of throwing petrol bombs at police officers and damaging a police vehicle.
A prosecution barrister told Judge Elizabeth McCaffrey at yesterday's plea and sentence hearing that during the rioting at Fahan Street in the Bogside area, on the night of July 12 and early hours of July 13 of last year, Moore was struck with "an energy projectile which had been fired by the police".
Moore took off the mask he was wearing due to the impact of the strike and he was recognised by a police officer.
When later arrested and interviewed by the police and shown ground level CCTV footage as well as aerial CCTV footage, Moore told the police "prove it" and later added during a second interview: "I couldn't give a f***."
The prosecutor said up to 200 people took part in the disturbances and many of them, including Moore, threw petrol bombs at police lines.
"The defendant was active and persistent in his activities," the prosecutor said. "He was wearing a red Adidas top and dark trousers. He was later seen changing to grey shorts with black stripes and a grey top after he had removed his outer clothing.
"Ground level CCTV footage and from police air support cover identified him throwing the possessing petrol bombs. He was also seen to lower his shorts and expose his backside to the police.
"At 3.30am he was seen by the police trying to light a device when he was struck by an energy projectile fired by the police.
"He dropped the device when struck and as a result of being struck he took off a red sleeve mask from his face and he was then recognised by a police officer who had known him for four to five years."
A youth came out from the crowd and approached the defendant, who hastily replaced the mask, the barrister added.
The prosecutor said the defendant, who had 27 previous convictions, had a history of disorderly behaviour and had been assessed as being a high risk reoffender. He said about 50 petrol bombs had been thrown at the police during a sustained night of rioting.
Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said the defendant "does not have a political thought in his head and to say he had would be to give him forethought which he is not blessed with".
He said Moore, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol at the time, gave in to temptation when presented with the opportunity to commit the offences.
Mr Mooney said: "As regards what he said when arrested, he can be a big man during interviews but he is a small boy when it comes to today's proceedings.
"He has spent four years of his life behind bars for various offences and it is a terrible waste of a human life. The temptation on this night was just too great for him but that explanation does not excuse his actions.
"He now apologises to the police and to the members of the public who were the victims of his offending."
Judge McCaffrey said she would sentence Moore tomorrow and remanded him in continuing custody.
"It appears to me unfortunate that there are certain times of the year in this country when people will use it almost as an excuse to behave in a way which is highly reprehensible," she said.