Judge brands topless rioter an 'eejit'

Published Thursday, 12 June 2014
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A Newtownabbey man jailed for rioting at two separate locations in Belfast last summer was branded a "complete eejit" by a Crown Court judge.

Judge brands topless rioter an 'eejit'
Stewart was handed a 22 month sentence. (© UTV)

Robert John Stewart from Glencoole House took part in a riot in the Twaddell Avenue/Woodvale Park area on 12 July last year and became embroiled in a second riot which took place in the Peter's Hill area of the city on 9 August, 2013.

After viewing CCTV footage of last July's riot - during which a bare-chested Stewart climbed onto a police Land Rover, kicked police shields and recorded officers on his mobile phone - Judge Corinne Philpott QC told Belfast Crown Court he "looks like a complete eejit".

Violence in north Belfast erupted following a Parades Commission determination not to allow a loyalist flute band to walk past the Ardoyne shop fronts on their return journey on 12 July last year.

Crown prosecutor Joseph Murphy said 32-year-old Stewart was part of a group of loyalists who confronted police and was captured on video footage shot by officers for around 37 minutes.

During that time, the father-of-one threw a number of objects at police lines including a traffic cone, a lump of concrete and a bottle.

His image was released by the PSNI and a member of the public identified him.

When he was arrested and interviewed, Stewart said he was extremely drunk that day.

Mr Murphy said that when Stewart was shown the footage, he smirked and refused to confirm whether or not it was him.

When asked if he was remorseful, Stewart replied: "Do the police feel remorseful for beating people with batons?"

Less than one month later, Stewart was again captured on police CCTV at a loyalist riot.

Serious street disorder erupted in the centre of Belfast on the evening of 9 August last year after loyalists mounted a protest about an anti-interment parade which was due to make its way from Alliance Avenue to west Belfast via the city centre.

Mr Murphy told the court Stewart was seen throwing three missiles at police lines in the Peter's Hill area, and when he was subsequently interviewed, he denied throwing missiles but said he was just making "a gesture of throwing".

When questioned about this, Stewart said he was practicing for the javelin.

Stewart's barrister Sean Devine said his client involved himself in a "course of conduct" last summer but pointed out that on both occasions, his client's activity was "short-lived".

Regarding last July's riot Mr Devine said Stewart was part of a "portion of the community venting their frustrations" and spoke of his client's "pent-up frustration".

Revealing that Stewart had been the victim of several beatings at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries - including being shot and having both arms broken - Mr Devine said Stewart's involvement in both riots could have been to "ingratiate himself" with such elements.

Judge Philpott handed Stewart a sentence of one year and 10 months.

He will spend 11 months of the sentence in custody, with the remainder to be spent on supervised licence when he is released from custody.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Pride Of The North in Belfast wrote (232 days ago):
32 year old father of 3 caught rioting twice! I'm sure his kids are really proud of this shining example. I think on this occasion, the judge got it spot on - a complete eejit. Morons like this need to grow up & act their age.
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