Teenage rioter spared jail with suspended sentence

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A teenage rioter has been freed on a suspended jail term after a judge ruled his was “one of those rare cases where an exception can be made”.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told 18-year-old David White that normally rioters faced immediate custody, and had he contested the case he would have faced a sentence of up to three years.

However, a remorseful White of New Lodge Road, Belfast, pleaded guilty, allowing for a reduction of the term to two years, which was suspended for three years, given the special circumstances, in particular his youth.

The Belfast Court judge said in addition to his age, he had also taken into account White’s very significant mental health issues, and the difficulties and tragedies that had “befallen you at the time and afterwards”.

Earlier prosecutor Simon Jenkins said that White was captured on police video throwing two missiles during rioting in the Oldpark area of north Belfast, following an anti-internment protest in the city centre.

White, who was seen in the area for over two hours, later told police he’d been returning from football training with a friend, added Mr Jenkins.

Defence barrister Sean Mullan said White was only aged 17 at the time, and could have been dealt with by the youth court on a more lenient charge.

Mr Mullan said probation and other reports indicated that an immature White had shown some insight as to the consequences of his offending.

The lawyer also revealed that the teenager is battling drug problems and was recently traumatised by finding a close friend who had killed himself.