Northern Ireland news

Ardoyne shops rioter jailed

Laganside courthouse in Belfast

A Belfast judge has warned those engaged in rioting, no matter how long ago, must still expect to be jailed.

The comments of Recorder David McFarland came as he jailed 41-year old Christopher O'Hara for 22 months for rioting at the then Ardoyne interface in July 2012.

Judge McFarland said at the time the public was "fed up" and that there was an "uprising of public feeling" that rioting had to stop, and that the courts in turn increased their sentencing.

He added that while such riots may be a thing of the past, it did not mean that rioters should not expect to receive similar punishment today.

However, he told O'Hara, from Gortnamona View in Belfast, there were a number of mitigating factors in his case, not least his guilty pleas and remorse, and he also had a number of health issues, both mental and physical.

He also accepted that O'Hara's offending, like many other unfortunates, was exploited by more sinister people and was "completely out of character."

O'Hara, who pleaded guilty to charges of rioting and both throwing and possessing a petrol bomb, will serve a similar period of 22 months on supervised licence patrol upon his release.

Defence barrister Jonathan Brown said client's involvement was "on the spur of the moment", and "was really an attempt to fit in" for which he has shown regret and remorse and even "made an apology" to police at the time.

Mr Brown added his client has suffered "significant physical and mental health issues over the years", including three heart attacks within a three month period.

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