Published Monday, 04 July 2011
UTV NEWS POLL
Should all convicted rioters face automatic jail sentences?
The police woman was seriously hurt when the missile was thrown on her head from the Ardoyne shop front roof.
Rodger Jorro Costa, who is 29 and originally from Barcelona but with an address in Ulsterville Avenue in Belfast, pleaded guilty to attempted grievous bodily harm with intent and rioting arising from this incident.
He had originally been charged with trying to murder the officer.
Jailing Costa at Belfast Crown Court, Recorder of Belfast Judge Tom Burgess told the Barcelona native that his "cowardly attack" was in stark contrast to the bravery and resilience shown by Constable Amar.
Praising the officer, the judge revealed that earlier in the day she had been hit with a petrol bomb and that colleagues had to extinguish the flames which threatened to engulf her.
Despite that attack and being struck by the concrete, Constable Amar still wanted to stay with her fellow officers in an effort to restore order to the area.
Revealing that policing last year's disturbances cost close to £1m, the judge issued a warning that anyone involved in rioting will face being sent to jail.
"The court cannot ignore the fact that in the very recent past, elsewhere in the city such violent scenes have been played out, again with the potential of injury and damage particularly to people in their own local community - some driven from their homes," said the judge.
Describing how Costa was at the "forefront" of the rioting, Judge Burgess said he had intentionally armed himself and thrown several pieces of heavy masonry at police with the intention of injuring them.
He said the politics and journalism graduate was lucky not to be facing more serious charges as he could easily have caused fatal injuries to Constable Amar.
The judge told Costa the Northern Ireland community had welcomed him in but that their "welcome has been poorly repaid," and added that he could not hand down a jail term which would allow the Spaniard to go home in the near future as "he still owes a debt to our society".
Eleven men were sentenced for their part in the rioting when they appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Monday. Another 13 are to be sentenced on Tuesday.
The Judge told the court that in his view, last year's rioting was "extremely violent," premeditated and widespread "no doubt manipulated by figures behind the scenes".
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Little has welcomed Monday's sentencing.
"No-one wants to see young people criminalised as a result of being encouraged to become involved in violence. I would urge anyone considering getting involved in any type of disorder to step back and think of the potential consequences," he said.
"Anyone taking part in such types of violence runs the risk of being convicted and ending up with a criminal record."
He added: "The investigation remains open. We are still trying to identify a number of people who were involved in the disorder at the Ardoyne last year and continuing to work at bringing those people before the courts. "
The Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board has also welcomed the sentence.
Brian Rea said: "This sentence sends a very strong message that those who cause injury to our police officers during public order situations will be dealt with robustly by the courts".
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