Stormont cross-community worker dodges jail term for Twelfth rioting after MLAs write character references
A Stormont catering assistant and cross-community worker received a suspended jail sentence today for throwing bottles at police during Twelfth of July disorder.
Marc Toye was told the three-month term was being put on hold to allow him to continue working with young people at a sectarian interface in east Belfast.
But his job at Parliament Buildings could still be in jeopardy due to his involvement in trouble surrounding disputed Orange Order parades.
Toye, 32, of Thistle Court, Belfast, was identified on CCTV footage throwing two bottles in the Newtownards Road area on July 12.
He handed himself in to police after footage of the incident was released to the media.
Following Toye's guilty plea to a charge of riotous behaviour, defence barrister Michael Boyd told Belfast Magistrates' Court it had been a
brief act of senselessness.
"He got caught up in the mob mentality and has lived to regret it," Mr Boyd said.
"He's of the view that his employment is very much at risk, given the nature of the offence."
Character references from a number of unnamed MLAs were submitted to the court on Toye's behalf.
Another from a nationalist member of the community was said to detail the defendant's positive work in the area.
"He has shamed himself and shamed his family by this behaviour and brought himself quite literally to the doors of the cell," Mr Boyd
But urging the judge not to impose an immediate jail sentence, the barrister stressed Toye's contribution to helping others.
He added: "He has support from very eminent members of the community."
District Judge Austin Kennedy stressed the problems rioting had caused to police and residents in the areas affected.
He told Toye: "The issue for me today... is whether I should allow you to continue your role in the community to stop these things
Taking into account the defendant's guilty plea, and brief involvement in the trouble, the judge decided not to send him straight to jail.
Imposing a three-month sentence, suspended for two years, he said it was to give Toye a chance to convey to young people the consequences of getting caught up in rioting.
Belfast Telegraph Digital