Rioters 'put police at risk' - judge

Rioters 'put police at risk' - judge

Twelfth of July rioters put the lives of hundreds of police officers at risk of injury or death, a High Court judge has said.

Mr Justice McCloskey stressed that officers drafted in from other forces could also have been exposed to injury or death, along with thousands of law-abiding citizens.

His assessment came after being told how a man travelled from his Co Down home to allegedly spend days at the scene of disorder surrounding an Orange Order parade in north Belfast.

Gary Hindes, 23, of Magheraconluce Road, Hillsborough, faces a charge of riot in the Woodvale Road area on 12 July.

He was identified on CCTV footage by police after appearing in court charged separately with disorderly behaviour the following day.

It means exposing hundreds of police officers, not only local officers but those who are drafted in from other jurisdictions, to the risk of serious personal injury or death.

Judge Justice McCloskey

A prosecution barrister said Hindes was spotted at the front of a crowd attacking police officers enforcing a ban on Orangemen parading through the Ardoyne area on the Twelfth.

"He was seen on CCTV kicking at a police land rover and also throwing bottles at police lines," the lawyer said.

"He was centrally involved at the very front of the crowd."

During a bail hearing it was set out how Hindes, who is originally from the Twadell Avenue area of north Belfast, returned to visit friends on 10 July.

He spent the next few days drinking heavily and has no recollection of what happened, the judge was told.

Defence counsel Jonathan Connolly said his client admitted his actions after being shown the footage.

"I understand from my solicitor he was extremely tearful and apologetic in interview, as so he should be, and accepting of his behaviour even though he couldn't remember at the time," he said.

The bail application was adjourned until Friday for an update to be given on prosecution of the case and more information on Hindes' employment history.

Mr Justice McCloskey stressed that Hindes still faces "substantial hurdles" to being released.

The judge pointed out how trouble had flared in the same location for years.

"Public disorder means the following - it means exposing thousands of law-abiding citizens to the risk of personal injury or death," he said.

"It's public knowledge that there was a substantial number of police officers injured during the rioting in which the applicant, according to the prosecution evidence and his own acceptance, participated actively and forcefully and enthusiastically."


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