Northern Ireland

'Spiderman' rioter Ronnie Nelson sentenced to three years

protestors Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The trouble flared after loyalists confronted police in Belfast city centre ahead of a republican parade

A Newtownabbey man convicted of rioting while wearing a Spiderman mask has been sentenced to three years.

Father of two Ronnie Nelson, from East Way in Rathcoole, must serve 18 months in jail followed by 18 months on supervised licensed parole.

Nelson, 29, threw bricks at police during disturbances in Belfast in August 2013.

Trouble broke out in Royal Avenue after loyalists mounted a protest over a republican parade.

Jailing Nelson, a judge at Belfast Crown Court told him that Belfast had enough rioters without others travelling to the city to add to trouble.

He added that rioters must realise there was not only an individual crime, but a collective crime, and therefore all must bear responsibility for the entire riot and its costs both in financial terms and the harm caused.

Nelson, the judge said, was involved in an extremely bad riot which caused not only massive inconvenience and disruption, but also injury to 58 police officers called to deal with the significant disturbance.

Spiderman mask

Nelson, who was wearing a distinctive grey Adidas tracksuit with yellow stripes on the day of the riot, was captured on CCTV walking nearby unmasked, then a short time later he covered his face with a Spiderman mask before attacking police lines on Royal Avenue.

During the two-day trial, the jury was told that in the aftermath of the riot, police examined the CCTV footage in detail and that no-one else in the area on the night in question was wearing the grey Adidas tracksuit.

A defence lawyer said Nelson had led an absolutely blameless life, with an exemplary work record, but now, given his conviction, effectively his life was in ruins.