Rioter in red, white and blue mohawk wig jailed

Around 25 police officers were injured in the disturbances
Around 25 police officers were injured in the disturbances
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A 20-year-old Belfast man has started a 15-month sentence for rioting and throwing missiles at police in a flashpoint area of the city last summer.

Jonathan David Carmichael was captured on police CCTV jumping on the bonnet of a PSNI Land Rover, dragging a barrier across the road and throwing a number of objects at officers during a riot which broke out in the Woodvale/Twaddell area.

Carmichael, a warehouse operative from Black Mountain Grove, was wearing a distinctive red, white and blue mohawk wig during the civil unrest on July 13 last year.

Trouble flared following a Parades Commission determination banning an Orange lodge and flute band from returning past the nationalist Ardoyne shop fronts area.

Around 25 police officers were injured after police lines were pelted with masonry, bricks, bottles and other items, with one officer suffering a severe ear injury.

Carmichael was captured on CCTV in the area for over two hours wearing a distinctive wig, and at some stage during the incident he covered his face with a scarf.

As well as jumping on the Land Rover, throwing bottles and bricks at police lines and helping to drag a barrier across the road, Carmichael was also hit with water cannon as he and others sat in the middle of the road.

Belfast Crown Court heard that following the riot, Carmichael was tagged on a picture on Facebook which in turn led to his arrest.

When he was interviewed and shown the CCTV footage, Carmichael agreed that he was in the area on the evening in question, recognised himself wearing the mohawk wig, but said he had no recollection of rioting.

He subsequently admitted a single charge of rioting last July.

Her Honour Judge McCaffrey was told Carmichael came before the court with 14 previous convictions for offences including disorderly behaviour.

A defence barrister said that despite Carmichael’s involvement, his client had “no views or allegiances” to the protest, but found himself caught up in what was happening.

The barrister said Carmichael was off for the 12th holidays, had “money in his pocket”, had been drinking heavily and instead of going home after the band parade, found himself in the Woodvale area where he “got himself into a situation which escalated”.

Describing Carmichael’s actions before he threw missiles at police as “a bit of tomfoolery and high jinks” where the young man was “acting the lig”, the barrister said his client now accepts the impact his behaviour had on the police.

The barrister also told the court that Carmichael regrets his behaviour, adding he was “very very drunk ... clearly out of his mind”.

Passing sentence, Judge McCaffrey told Carmichael he made the choice both to drink, and to go to the flashpoint area.

Sending Carmichael to jail, he was told by the judge: “It is most unfortunate that a young man from your background and with steady employment should be in this position.”

He was handed a two-and-a-half year sentence, and was told he will spend 15 months in custody, with the remaining 15 months in licence upon his release.