Marching season offenders warned of ‘stiffer sentences’


A leading Belfast judge has warned that the courts will hand out “stiffer custodial sentences’’ if there is further public disorder during this summer’s marching season.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland sounded the warning while jailing James Harding for eight months for rioting last summer.

Harding, 30, of Lawnbrook Avenue, off the Shankill Road in west Belfast, had pleaded guilty to a single charge of riotous assembly on July 12, 2013.

Sentencing Harding to a further eight months on licence after his release, Judge McFarland said: “You and the public have to be aware that the courts are taking a firm view in relation to this type of offending and it has to stop.

“There have been pleas by politicians but they have been ignored. The courts have taken on the role of given out determinate sentences for such offences.

“If this does not work this year, then you and others like you who come before a court will receive stiffer custodial sentences,’’ added Judge McFarland.