Northern Ireland

Man jailed over petrol bomb attack during Lurgan riot

A man who threw a petrol bomb at police during rioting in the Kilwilkie Estate in Lurgan, Co Armagh, has been jailed.

Diarmiud McKee (29) was handed a sentence of five years and three months by Judge Patricia Smyth at Belfast Crown Court, half of which will be served in custody with the remainder on licence.

McKee, from Deeny Drive in Lurgan, was one of several men arrested in the aftermath of the riot which broke out on the afternoon of August 23, 2020.

Police were targeted after they arrived to deal with a suspicious device. When it was made safe, a search then commenced on waste ground.

A crowd began to gather in the area and neighbourhood officers were deployed to explain the police presence to residents.

The court heard that in the space of 50 minutes a total of four petrol bomb attacks directed at police - and McKee was involved in the third attack.

The street disorder was recorded by cameras attached to police Land Rovers as well as the aerial support unit.  McKee was among a number of men arrested.

During an interview with police, he refused to comment.

McKee denied charges of rioting and throwing a petrol on August 23, 2020 and maintained this stance until the day of his trial last October, when he entered guilty pleas to both charges.

Defence barrister Kieran Mallon KC raised McKee's lack of offending and absence of politicial motivation.

He had told a probation officer he had been drinking heavily the night before the incident and described his involvement as a 'moment of madness.'

The Belfast Recorder spoke of several aggravating elements adding:  "The offending involved the deliberate targeting of the police who were acting in the course of their duty as public servants."