Four people involved in an incident which occurred as a band parade walked past a Catholic church in Belfast were yesterday branded a “disgrace” by one of Belfast’s top judges.
Judge Corinne Philpott QC spoke of “anti-social behaviour bubbling under the surface” and praised the actions of the police for “quickly quelling” the situation.
A Crown prosecutor told Belfast Crown Court that trouble flared on Belfast’s Donegall Street on August 25, 2012 when a band parade made its way past St Patrick’s Church. A Scottish man who has already been dealt with in Belfast Magistrates’ Court approached a group of nationalist protestors and walked into their banner, which said ‘Respect Our Community’.
The prosecutor said that when the nationalist protestors reacted, a group of band supporters who were standing on the other side of the road “surged forward”, resulting in a brief period of affray which lasted up to seven seconds.
Three people from Belfast who took part in that affray were Jonathan Charles Bustard, 31, from Matchett Street, 37-year old community worker Alison Simpson from Disraeli Street and Robert Smith, 37, from Ashmore Place. They all pleaded guilty to a single charge of affray.
A fourth man, 30-year old Glen Baker from Inverwood Gardens in the city, was also present. The court heard that when riot police were calming the situation, he threw a traffic cone at police lines which hit a female officer. Baker subsequently pleaded guilty to assaulting the officer occasioning actual bodily harm.
Bustard and Simpson were each ordered to serve 160 hours community service, while Baker was ordered to serve 240 hours community service. Smith was handed a one-year prison sentence, which was suspended for two years.