Northern Ireland

Boy 'smashed pole on riot police'

A 16-year-old youth was spotted smashing a five-foot pole down on police during 12 July rioting in Belfast, the High Court has heard.

The accused, who cannot be named because of his age, was also allegedly involved in hijacking a car set on fire during the trouble in Ardoyne.

Defence lawyers disputed the police's ability to identify him.

His application for bail was adjourned until a judge studies available CCTV footage.

The teenager faces charges of riotous assembly, attempted grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of an offensive weapon, attempted criminal damage, hijacking, criminal damage to a car, and possession of herbal cannabis.

'Balaclava'

A prosecuting barrister claimed the boy was seen and photographed on roofs in the area wearing a hooded top with a distinctive logo.

It was alleged he was later filmed on CCTV wearing a balaclava and involved in rioting.

The lawyer told the court he was observed throwing bottles and violently smashing the pole down on police lines up to five times and was among a 100-strong mob who attacked a police vehicle.

Later a masked group went to a house, threatened the homeowner with a golf club and demanded the car parked in the drive, it was alleged.

Police footage showed the vehicle being driven out and abandoned on the Crumlin Road, and the prosecution lawyer said detectives believed it was the accused who was seen getting out of the passenger side.

"He was observed beating the car with the golf club whilst a mob surrounded the car and set it on fire with a petrol bomb," the barrister said.

The teenager, who was allegedly wearing the same distinctive clothing as the rioter spotted, was arrested two weeks later at home with a quantity of cannabis, the court was told.

'Speculation'

Defence lawyer Joe Brolly said it was "a terrible case".

"In essence what this is is a case of police theory - it is speculation," he said.

"There is no evidence in relation to identification, save for the fact police say a man who is photographed earlier in the day is wearing a top similar to the top depicted in later photographs.

"We say there is no forensic evidence, there's no mapping evidence about sizes."

He added that the garment his client was alleged to have been wearing at the scene was commonly worn by other young people.

Mr Justice Hart adjourned the application until later in the week, saying: "I would like to see the footage for myself."