A petrol bomber who was recognised by the police when his mask fell off during four hours of sustained public order offences when rioters attacked police lines during disturbances in Fahan Street in the Bogside area of Londonderry in July of last year, has been jailed for five-and-a-half years at the city’s Crown Court.
The mask worn by John Paul Moore, 23, whose address was given as care of Maghaberry Prison, fell to the ground after he was hit with high energy projectile fired by the police.
Police CCTV camera operators both on the ground and in an overhead helicopter filmed Moore as he struggled to put the mask back over his face.
Moore, who had 27 previous criminal convictions, many of them for public order offences, arrived in Fahan Street in the early hours of July 12 of last year after he’d walked seven miles from Campsie where he’d had a row with his partner.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of riotous assembly, guilty to five charges of possessing petrol bombs in suspicious circumstances and guilty to four charges of throwing petrol bombs at police lines, damaging one of the police vehicles.
During the rioting, Moore, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, turned his back to the police lines and exposed his buttocks.
A barrister for the Public Prosecution Service told Judge Elizabeth McCaffrey that about 200 people were present during the four hour long disturbances when up to 50 petrol bombs were thrown at the police.
When he was arrested Moore denied the offences and said to police officers “prove it”. When he was then shown the CCTV footage he said “I couldn’t give a f**k”.
His defence barrister Stephen Mooney said Moore didn’t “have a political thought in his head and to say he had would be to give him forethought which he is not blessed with.
“As regards what he said when arrested, he can be a big man during interviews but he is a small boy when it comes to today’s proceedings”, Mr Mooney said.
Jailing Moore for five-and-a-half years, Judge McCaffrey told him that the many years he’d already spent in jail for public order offences was a waste of a young life.
She ordered that when he’s released from jail Moore will be banned from going within 500 metres of any parade or demonstration.