Ardoyne rioter threw stepladders at police

A Parades Commission ruling had prevented an Orange lodge from marching past the Ardoyne shops
A Parades Commission ruling had prevented an Orange lodge from marching past the Ardoyne shops

A Belfast man who threw numerous items, including a set of stepladders, at police during a riot in the north of the city has been sent to prison.

Handing Paul Drake a sentence of three years and one month, Judge Patricia Smyth told the father of two he will spend half the term in jail, and the same period on licence when he is released from custody.

As well as throwing a range of objects at police lines, the 28-year-old also bared his buttocks to police twice.

Belfast Crown Court heard that during the riot Drake, from Argyle Street, tried but failed to hide his identity by changing items of clothes.

Trouble flared in the flashpoint area on July 13, 2015 following a Parade Commission’s determination banning an Orange lodge and flute band from returning past the nationalist Ardoyne shop fronts area.

Several officers were injured after police lines were pelted with masonry, bricks, bottles and other items.

A prosecuting barrister told the court that Drake was captured on police CCTV in the area from 8.19pm to 9.38pm, and that during this period he threw scores of missiles at officers.

Some of the items he threw included a traffic cone, set of ladders, four bottles, 16 bricks and an iron bar. He was also seen on CCTV trying to pull the wing mirror off a police Land Rover, as well as exposing his bare buttocks twice.

During two separate police interviews, Drake made no admissions – even when he was shown the CCTV. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a single charge of rioting.

Defence barrister Sean O’Hare spoke of his client’s “difficult life” where he had to deal with bullying at school and being shot by paramilitaries twice. These and other difficulties led Drake to “seek solace” in drugs.

Regarding the rioting offence, Mr O’Hare said Drake had been attending a barbeque in the upper Shankill area on the day in question, adding Drake had “no recollection whatsoever” of involving himself in the street disorder.

Mr O’Hare said Drake’s attempts to hide his identity were “cack-handed,” adding Drake’s behaviour was “more clowning bravado rather than someone who is determined to cause difficulties to the police.”

Sentencing Drake, Judge Smyth said: “This was a very serious incident of public disorder involving violent attacks on police and causing mayhem in the local community.

“There is no question you were actively involved in the riot for more than an hour. Your behaviour was shocking and disgraceful and it could have caused serious injury to police officers.”