Man who threw masonry at police as he jumped between rooftops is jailed

A man who damaged more than a dozen cars as he threw masonry at police from north Belfast rooftops has been jailed for 11 months.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 2:13 pm
Belfast Magistrates' Court

Colm McClenaghan hurled shards of glass, tiles and chimney pieces ripped from houses on the Oldpark Road during a stand-off lasting several hours.

Prosecutors said distressed onlookers gasped and screamed as the 29-year-old jumped between the three storey-high properties.

He eventually plunged to the ground after shouting that he would die before being arrested.

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McClenaghan, with an address at Donegall Road in the city, pleaded guilty to a total of 24 offences in connection with the incident on September 20 last year.

They included 14 counts of criminal damage, six assaults on police, disorderly behaviour and possessing an offensive weapon.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard officers went to the scene amid reports about an aggressive man.

McClenaghan climbed out a back window onto the roof of one of the buildings, shouting that he was going to kill himself.

As PSNI representatives attempted to negotiate with him to come down, he threw one of his shoes and spat at them.

A Crown lawyer said the defendant then armed himself with tiles, smashed a window and targeted police with shards of glass.

McClenaghan then scaled onto a higher roof, ripping gutters and chimneys to throw at cars and officers gathered below.

“He continued shouting, swearing and directing threats while running along back and forward across the roofs,” the prosecutor said.

“He jumped from one roof to another, and in doing so onlookers were screaming and gasping, some were distressed at his actions.”

At one point McClenaghan armed himself with two large nails, one in each clenched first, to make “punching daggers” gestures, the court heard.

Ignoring the negotiators, he jumped from the roof and fell into a hedge separating the houses. He then underwent hospital treatment for his injuries.

District Judge George Conner was told one of the targeted policemen suffered cuts to his arm.

Defence counsel John O’Connor stressed no other officers sustained physical injuries during what he described as a “suicidal episode”.

“He (McClenaghan) went up on this roof in a pair of socks, it wasn’t as though he had any grip,” the barrister said.

“He remained up there for a number of hours, everybody was concerned he would slip, fall and die due to his mental state.”

Imposing the 11-month prison term, Mr Conner said: “This is a very serious matter, a custodial sentence is the only option the court has.”