Northern Ireland

Belfast rioter who tagged himself gets a two-year sentence

Police officer in riot gear
Image caption Serious disorder broke out in north Belfast in July last year

A Belfast man arrested for rioting after tagging himself on social media has been given a two-year sentence.

Robert Darragh, 21, from Hopewell Crescent in the Shankill area was identified by police after he twice tagged himself as being present during a riot.

The serious disorder broke out in the Woodvale/Twaddell area last July.

He will spend half his sentence in prison, with the remainder served on licence.

Trouble flared following a Parades Commission determination not to allow a loyalist flute band to pass by the nationalist Ardoyne shop fronts area on July 13.

A total of 29 police officers were injured during the rioting after police lines were pelted with masonry, bricks, bottles and other items, with one officer almost losing an ear.

A prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown Court that Darragh was captured on CCTV "on numerous occasions" throwing items at police lines.

The court heard that during the riot, Darragh covered his face and had his hood up in a bid to disguise his appearance.

However, he was pictured sitting on a wall with his face uncovered prior to involving himself in the riot.

The crown lawyer said that following the riot, police trawled through social media and discovered that Darragh had tagged himself as the man sitting on the wall, and had again tagged himself as one of the males rioting on the Woodvale Road.

He subsequently admitted a single charge of rioting.

A defence lawyer said that when questioned by police about his involvement, Darragh made the case that he could not remember as he had been on a three-day binge, and that he had expressed shame for his actions.

The lawyer said there was "nothing to suggest any police officer was injured as a result of anything" Darragh did.

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