Northern Ireland

Judith Hawthorn has rioting sentence deferred to aid rehab

The daughter of a Catholic former RUC officer had a sentence for involvement in loyalist rioting deferred for six months to help her beat her addiction to alcohol and drugs.

The judge told Judith Hawthorn: "I am giving you a chance to turn your life around so I am deferring sentence for six months.

"It is most important that you stay off alcohol and stop taking cannabis.

"If you don't, I am sentencing you to 18 months."

Hawthorn, 34, of Florence Court, off Belfast's Crumlin Road, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to rioting.

She is the only female to be charged and convicted over the trouble, which erupted on 2 September, 2012.


More than 60 police officers were injured during three nights of rioting on streets close to Carlisle Circus in north Belfast.

Trouble flared after an Irish republican parade in the area by the Henry Joy McCracken band.

Loyalists had objected to the parade going through the area without any restrictions being imposed by the Parades Commission.

A Crown lawyer said Hawthorn was present at the scene for over four hours during the rioting.

He said the mother-of-two was captured on police video throwing two missiles at police lines and a third missile at republicans in the Hopelink centre off Carlisle Circus.

At one point, tattooed Hawthorn, wearing a blue Glasgow Rangers Football Club baseball cap, is seen on the footage verbally abusing police in sectarian terms.

Prosecuting counsel said Hawthorn was arrested the following month.

"She was interviewed and readily accepted it was her in the footage. However, she told officers she had no clear recollection of the day because she had been drinking,'' he added.

A defence barrister said Hawthorn had become dependent on alcohol following a history of domestic violence during a previous relationship.

"She says that she would drink a bottle of vodka a day on her own. She also suffered trauma as her father was a Catholic police officer in Carrickfergus at the height of the Troubles,'' he added.

From the dock, Hawthorn told the court that she was "off alcohol'' but admitted she was still taking cannabis.

The judge said: "That is a criminal offence and if you are caught in possession of it you will be sentenced.''

The judge said she was taking Hawthorn's personal circumstances into consideration and was deferring sentence until 30 June.

"Given your background, you should be thoroughly ashamed of your behaviour. Your actions at your age are deplorable,'' she added.