Bandsman jailed over throwing firework

Bandsman jailed over throwing firework

A loyalist bandsman has been jailed for 12 months for throwing a firework at police during "sporadic, but sustained" rioting in north Belfast.

Jonathan Airdrie, 23, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to riotous behaviour following a republican band parade through Carlisle Circus on 2 September, 2012.A prosecution lawyer said Airdrie, of Rosebank Street, Belfast, was among a crowd of 300 loyalists who had gathered after the Parades Commission allowed the Henry Joy McCracken parade to walk along Clifton Street.Police were deployed to keep loyalists and republicans apart as they gathered at Denmark Street and the rear of the Hopelink Centre on Clifton Street, the court heard.Judge Donna McColgan QC watched police CCTV footage of Airdrie dressed in a black hooded top throw a single firework at police lines during the "serious rioting".The court heard during 11 hours of trouble that day, four police officers were hospitalised and a further 50 were injured and a number of PSNI vehicles were also damaged.A total of 30 petrol bombs and 40 fireworks were hurled at police dressed in full riot gear, the judge heard."AEPs (Attenuating Energy Projectiles) were deployed during the course of the rioting which lasted 11 hours."The lawyer added that father-of-two Airdrie was captured at the scene for almost four hours.The court was told that Airdrie was arrested the following month by a PSNI detective as he walked along Cambrai Street in the Shankill district.During questioning, Airdrie identified himself from the footage but made no admissions.A defence barrister claimed there were "highly exceptional circusmtances" in the case as Airdrie was suffering from depression, ADHD and suffered behavourial problems from a young age.However, Judge McColgan rejected the defence argument saying not only had Airdrie been captured throwing the firework he was also identified from the CCTV footage being "menacing towards police". The judge sentenced Airdrie to two years, with 12 months in custody and the remainder to be spent on licence following his release.Meanwhile, another rioter involved in the same incident was given a one year prison sentence suspended for two years.Judge Corinne Philpott QC said the case of Jason McCormick, 39 and of Crumlin Road, Belfast had "wholly exceptional circumstances" as his partner was still ill and needed "assistance with their two children".The judge was told that McCormick was seen on police footage at the scene for ten minutes throwing one or two missiles.However, a prosecuting barrister said that during interviews the defendant told police he had been present for three hours and had probably thrown more that a couple of missiles.Sentencing McCormick, the deputy Belfast Recorder told him: "Let this be the end of this matter and don't be going near any protests. You have more important things to keep you occupied."


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