A self-confessed rioter who took to the streets “for a laugh” when an Orange march was partially banned by the Parades’ Commission last July, has been sentenced to three and a half years.
Judge Gordon Kerr QC told 27-year-old Andrew Lundy from Mount Vernon in north Belfast on Monday that, while he had been “sensible in pleading guilty at the first opportunity”, he was bound by the Court of Appeal to pass a deterrent sentence.
Belfast Crown Court heard that police came under sustained attack by a mob of up to 5,000 after they had stopped a parade on the Woodvale Road, on July 12 last year.
Police in full riot gear had to use a water cannon, and also fire off baton rounds as they came under attack from missiles, petrol bombs and fireworks.
The whole incident was captured on police CCTV and while Lundy was seen throwing a number of missiles during the two hours he was involved in the riot, at one stage he was pictured on top of a police Land Rover. He was later identified from the police footage and arrested less than a fortnight later.
During the interview he admitted being at the riot, telling officers “he was just having a laugh and everybody else was behaving in a similar manner”.
However, he also claimed that given his drunken state he cant really remember much about what happened.
Defence lawyer Johnny Burke said Lundy was involved in a “disgraceful piece of behaviour”, but having admitted his guilt, he was realistic about the inevitable outcome of the case and revoked his own bail. He added it was clear from the footage that Lundy was extremely intoxicated at the time.
Mr Burke added that Lundy “had issues with alcohol”, and that if he did not learn to “break the vicious circle” of getting drunk and offending he would end up serving increasingly longer periods in jail.
Lundy will serve half of his sentence in prison, followed by a similar period on licenced supervised parole.
Lundy was the first of two rioters to be sentenced by Judge Kerr.
A 19-year-old man, Mathew Hay, from Trassey Gardens, in east Belfast, was given three years, on the same terms, for rioting in the lower Newtownards Road, also on July 12 last year.
Prosecutor Robin Steer told the court that Hay was one of a number of rioters captured on police CCTV, and although his picture was published in the media, he did not give himself up to police. When eventually identified by officers, he said he had simply “waited to see what would happen”.
Mr Steer said Hay also claimed that he could not remember being in the area because he was drunk, nor had he any recollection of being drenched by a water cannon during the rioting in which a dozen officers were injured, including two who were hospitalised.
Defence lawyer Pat Kelly said that an”extremely” drunken Hay at the time, was now “ashamed of his behaviour” which he accepts was “disgraceful”.
Mr Kelly said that since revoking his bail, Hay had signed up for a number of courses and plans to use his time constructively.
Sentencing him Judge Kerr told Hay that while it was unfortunate to see someone of his age before the court, he was required to pass a deterrent sentence in his, as with all cases of rioting.