A convicted rioter was jailed today for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to taking part in a riot at an anti-internment bonfire in west Belfast last year in which eight police officers were injured.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Cory Smyth (19), of Juniper Park, Dunmurry, was among a crowd of around 800 who had gathered at the Divis Street bonfire from on August 8, 2012.
A prosecution lawyer told the court that from 8 pm around 50 of the mob were throwing stones, broken bottles and paint at police.
Judge Donna McColgan QC heard that the trouble carried on into the early hours of August 9 when a crowd of 100 remained at the scene.
“The defendant was observed as being part of a small crowd of around 10 people who were attacking police with wooden pallets and metal crash gates.
“He was present between 1.37 and 1.51 am. Police evidence gatherers were present and recorded the rioting,” said the prosectuion lawyer.
“The defendant was seen waving his arms and jumped on the bonnet of a police landrover and was stamping his feet on the landrover.
“He was also observed throwing a bottle, stones and pieces of wood at police.”
Smyth was identified by police and was arrested at the scene and taken to Musgrave Street PSNI station for questioning.
The court heard Smyth told police that he had little recollection of events as he had drunk a quarter bottle of vodka and four large bottles of WKD.
“He admitted throwing six or seven bottles. He apologised for any injuries caused to the police officers.”
The court was told that at the time of the riot, Smyth was in breach of a suspended prison sentence for a previous riot.
A defence solicitor told the court that Smyth was only present at the riot for 14 minute.
“When he does drink he can’t cope. He is very suspectible to being mislead by others,” he added.
Judge McColgan QC said Smyth was present during “serious public disorder”during August 8 and August 9 last year in which bottles, paints, sticks and pallets were thrown at police.
The judge told the court that Smyth was convicted on January 1, 2011 for riotous behaviour and received a community service order of 50 hours.
“However, you breached that order and were you were given a three months suspended prison sentence. On January 1, 2013 you were convicting of rioting and given a probation order for 18 months.”
Judge McColgan said that in sentenceing Smyth she was taking into account his guilty plea to the rioting charge.
However, the judge added: “The evidence against you was overwhelming. The evidence against you left you with no other option but to plead guilty.”
Smyth was sentenced to three years, with 18 months to be spent in custody and the remainder to be spent on licence following his release.
Judge McColgan refused a prosecution request to have Smyth subjected to an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
“I don’t think it is needed. By the time you are released from prison you will be subject to an 18 month period on licence under the supervision of the Probation Service,” added the judge.