Northern Ireland

Ardoyne rioter Rodger Jarro Costa jailed for four years

A Spanish man has been sentenced to four years in prison after he admitted injuring a policewoman during 12 July riots in Ardoyne last year.

Rodger Jarro Costa, 29, from Barcelona, pleaded guilty to attempting to commit grievous bodily harm last month, just as his trial was about to begin.

Costa, whose address was given as Ulsterville Avenue, south Belfast, had already pleaded guilty to rioting.

The police officer was injured after a concrete block was dropped on her head.

She was one of 48 PSNI officers injured during three nights of violence.

Judge Tom Burgess told Belfast Crown Court that Costa 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 the policewoman.

Costa was originally charged with trying to murder the officer but he pleaded guilty to a charge of riot and of attempting to cause her grievous bodily harm.

Judge Burgess told Costa the Northern Ireland community had welcomed him 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".

'Bricks and stones'

A number of other men were sentenced on Monday for their involvement in the riots.

Paul Donegan, from Dunclug Gardens in Ballymena, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of riot in that he was seen to throw bricks and stones as well as kick out at a police shield, was jailed for eight months.

Christopher McKeating, 20, from Hawthorn Glen, west Belfast, who pleaded guilty to a single charge of riot - he was seen on CCCTV footage to throw three stones at police lines - was given a 10-month jail term.

Brendan Gilvary, 20, from Mountainview Drive, Belfast, was jailed for a year after he pleaded guilty to a single charge of riot. He was captured on CCTV throwing stones at police lines and attacking at a police land rover.

Samuel Cusick, 39, from Cliftonpark Avenue, Belfast, was handed a 200 hours Community Service Order after the judge heard that he played a "peripheral role" in the rioting.

Hugh Toal, 45, from Alliance Avenue in Belfast, was given a nine-month term suspended for two years.

The last defendant to be dealt with was 20-year-old Brendan Morgan from Tullamona Park in Kilkeel who also faced a single count of riot.

He had taken part in a peaceful sit-down protest, but was later recorded on CCTV throwing stones at the passing parade and then at police.

His sentence was deferred until 5 September after his solicitor said they had spoken to "leading members of the loyalist community and the Orange Order," asking them if Morgan could "make a real statement to the public that he would help the Orange order in relation to their preparations for the Twelfth, learn about their culture and their history and come out to present as a real person for the peace process".

On Tuesday, 13 more men are to be sentenced after pleading guilty to riot and associated offences.

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