Northern Ireland

Belfast riot accused's father 'saw him in newspaper'

A teenager accused of 12 July rioting in north Belfast handed himself in to police after his father saw his photo in a newspaper, a court has heard.

Christopher McKeating, of Hawthorn Glen in the west of the city, is charged with riotous assembly in connection with disturbances in Ardoyne.

His father told Belfast Magistrates Court: "He is very naive. I can only apologise on his behalf."

He was granted bail under tight conditions.

A police constable who said he could connect him with the offence had opposed his release because further contentious parades were still to take place.

The officer told Belfast Magistrates' Court the accused was not from the area but had travelled there with others "because they heard there was going to be a protest".

It was also claimed the accused tried to hide his identity with a scarf, but attended a police station voluntarily on Saturday after his father spotted him among police images released to the media last week.

He denied involvement until he was shown footage which allegedly showed him throwing stones, the court heard.

His father John McKeating, who is a social worker, gave evidence to "guarantee" he would not be allowed near Ardoyne if granted bail.

Mr McKeating told the court how he spotted his son's photo in the newspaper.

"I talked to him and at the time he was very, very nervous," he said.

'Respectable family'

Mr McKeating said he urged his son to go to police and "argue his case" when he at first denied being involved.

A defence solicitor said the teenager came from a respectable family who were shocked by what had happened.

"He (the accused) wasn't there to help organise the riot. He came there with other people when he was on his way home from another part of north Belfast. Curiosity got the better of him."

Despite police objections, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said conditions could be imposed to manage the risk of releasing the accused on bail.

The judge imposed a ban on going near the Ardoyne shopfronts and from entering the city of Londonderry.

She also imposed a curfew and banned him from being within 500 metres of any Orange Order parades.

He is due to appear again in court next month.

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