Published Thursday, 08 November 2012
Fifteen vehicles were hijacked and burnt out during the disorder. (© UTV)
In the dock at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday were Ballyclare men Richard Charnley, 25, from Clareville Park, Ronald Cowan, 56, from Thornhill Parade, Mark Graham, 23, from George Close, Chris Colhoun, 22, from Douglasland in Doagh and James Steele, 30, from Ballyfore Green in Newtownabbey.
All five had pleaded guilty to riot while Cowan and Charnley also admitted to causing criminal damage to a Suzuki Alto car on 10 July last year.
Petrol bombs and others missiles were thrown at police and cars were also burnt out during disorder which broke out after flags near a Catholic church were taken down by police before the Twelfth of July.
The court heard that serious disturbances in the Grange housing estate on the Doagh Road in the town, adjacent to the Catholic Church.
Officers in riot gear came under attack from a large crowd throwing bricks, bottles, petrol bombs and other missiles with two buses and at least one car being hijacked, set alight and pushed towards police lines.
Following the disturbances and disgraceful scenes we witnessed in Ballyclare last year, we made a commitment to the community to do everything possible to bring those involved before the courts.
Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine
The five men in the dock, the court heard, were all captured on CCTV footage by police evidence gathering teams throwing various missiles at cops.
Handing down the jail sentences, the Recorder of Belfast Judge David McFarland said the riot had been a "naked, sectarian attack on the Catholic commmunity" and their symbols in Ballyclare.
The men were handed out sentences ranging from one year and 10 months to three and a half years each, to serve half their term in jail and half on licence.
"The dedicated investigation team carried out a thorough and painstaking investigation, identifying, arresting and charging a number of individuals. Five people have now been convicted of a range of serious offences and we welcome this positive outcome," D District Commander Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine said.
"The scope and focus of the investigation has reflected our determination to bring those involved in rioting to justice. These sentences should serve as a warning to others of the consequences of becoming involved.
"The message here is very simple - if you engage in riotous behaviour or commit any manner of public order offence, you will be investigated and will face the full rigours of the law. As we've seen from these sentences, you run the very real risk of being arrested, prosecuted and ending up with a permanent criminal record."