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Probation for rioter who threw suitcase at police officers during Ardoyne riot

A man with learning disabilities who threw a suitcase at police during a riot in the Ardoyne area of Belfast has been placed on probation after appearing in court.

Martin Faulkner (43) from Antrim Road, and 25-year-old Christopher McDonnell, from the city's Wyndham Street, were each placed on two years probation after admitting a charge of rioting on July 12, 2012.

Belfast Crown Court heard that both men were part of a crowd that attacked police lines at the Ardoyne shopfronts flashpoint. During the serious street disorder, officers were pelted with missiles including petrol bombs.

Faulkner was seen smashing reinforced concrete into smaller pieces of masonry – which a Crown prosecutor said helped to facilitate the riot – and was also observed throwing a small suitcase at police lines.

Faulkner was seen in the area for just under five hours, and when arrested, he responded to questions by answering 'no comment', although he later pleaded guilty to rioting.

Meanwhile, McDonnell was seen shining a green laser pen at police officers on three separate occasions.

He was present from around 4.20pm until after midnight. When arrested, he told officers he didn't have the laser pen, as it was knocked out of his hand by the water cannon.

Judge Kerr placed Faulkner on two years' probation and said his vulnerability "may be the reason why he ended up in the riot".

Also placing McDonnell on two years' probation, the judge said shining the laser pen was intended to "intimidate the officers and cause fear" but the judge accepted McDonnell was "abnormally susceptible to others".

Belfast Telegraph