Northern Ireland

Paisley writes to attorney general on rioter jail term

The DUP MP Ian Paisley has written to the attorney general to ask if a Spanish student jailed for attempted grievous bodily harm can be retried on a more serious charge.

Rodger Jarro Costa, 29, from Barcelona, was sentenced to four years in prison after he admitted injuring a policewoman during 12 July riots in Ardoyne last year.

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

Costa had also admitted rioting.

Mr Paisley said he was "outraged" that the Public Prosecution Service had "decided to go for a lesser sentence".

"I have asked the attorney general to individually review the sentence and how it was applied to see is it possible to retry this individual under the more serious offence of attempted murder," he said.

"I think it sent out a very serious message that we are going soft on rioters."

Judge Tom Burgess told Belfast Crown Court on Monday that Costa, whose address was given as Ulsterville Avenue, south Belfast, 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".

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

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

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