A 26-year-old store worker who was wanted in connection with a riot in north Belfast last summer handed himself in to police after his boss saw his image on a UTV website and contacted him, a court heard on Friday.
Craig McIntyre, from Woodvale Road in Belfast, was present in the Twaddell Avenue/Woodvale area of the city over a three-hour period spanning over July 12 and 13 last year.
Trouble flared in the area following a Parades Commission determination not to allow a loyalist flute band to walk past the Ardoyne shop fronts on their return journey.
Belfast Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of the incident, and while McIntyre was initially unmasked, he was later observed wearing a ‘jester’-type mask and hat which covered his head and face.
A Crown prosecutor told Judge Corinne Philpott QC that McIntyre was seen picking a bottle up off the ground and throwing it at police lines. He was also observed dancing at the front of the crowd before being targeted by water cannon.
The prosecutor told the court that after his image was shown on the UTV website, McIntyre was recognised by his boss. McIntyre handed himself in, and during police interview he “identified himself both unmasked and wearing the mask”. He also admitted throwing the bottle and launching a golf ball at police.
Defence barrister Sean Devine told the court his client – who had a clear criminal record – had endured a difficult childhood marred by violence.
This traumatic childhood, said Mr Devine, resulted in McIntyre binge drinking, with the barrister telling the court his behaviour last July was “borne out of alcohol being taken to massively epic, excessive proportions” as he had been drinking for three days.
Mr Devine also spoke of his client’s academic success, good employment history and courteous manner, saying it was hard to reconcile McIntyre’s actions last July with the hard-working man that he is. He also said McIntyre’s expressions of remorse and regret for his involvement were “sincere.”
Judge Philpott said that while she took into account McIntyre’s family background, employment history and lack of previous offending, he had to take responsibility for his actions. After watching the footage, the Judge told McIntyre it was “hard to overlook the disrespect you were showing the police when you were dancing in front of the crowd”.
Telling McIntyre she was giving him “maximum” credit for meeting the charge in a straightforward manner and co-operating fully with police, Judge Philpott handed him a nine-month prison sentence.