Interface rioter who claims he mistook petrol bombs for alcohol avoids jail time

A RIOTER who was caught with a bag of petrol bombs he said he thought were liquor bottles has avoided jail time.

Jonathan Maitland was arrested during violent sectarian clashes on a peace line in west Belfast in April last year.

The 25-year-old had drunk 12 cans of harp before heading to Lanark Way, off Shankill Road, after seeing footage of the unrest shared on social media.

At Belfast Crown Court last week, Maitland, of Avoca Street in the city, was given a two-year probation order.

The judge decided not to jail Maitland after reviewing a pre-sentence report ordered after he pleaded guilty in January.

He admitted to organizing a riot, aiding and abetting the throwing of a Molotov cocktail and being in possession of Molotov cocktails in suspicious circumstances, all on April 8.

Maitland denied the offense of possession of gasoline bombs and the prosecution asked that she be left on the books.

When the case was first heard in the city magistrates’ court, his lawyer said he provided police with a full account of his whereabouts until 10.45 p.m. alleged offences, including alibi witnesses.

The lawyer said Maitland was arrested at 11:05 p.m. and that his house being 15 minutes from the scene would give him a “very short window of involvement”.

He said Maitland claimed he went to the scene after seeing footage of the riot on Facebook and consuming 12 cans of Harp lager.

The attorney said Maitland had been there with another man and CCTV footage from the scene showed him picking up a Russell Cellars bag which he said may contain alcohol.

Maitland saw what was in it, but was then approached by a man wearing a balaclava who asked, “Are you going to do something with that?”.

He replied that he was not and the man took it from him, adding that Maitland had not been seen throwing anything and could be seen walking away before the police got there. rushes and arrests a number of people.

The lawyer said Maitland needed a suitable adult when interviewing police and was “deeply affected” by his time in police custody.

More than 90 police officers were injured during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in March and April last year.

The loyalist paramilitaries were accused of inciting violence on the pretext that it was a demonstration against the Irish Sea border.

But at the time, the Loyalist Community Council (LCC) – an umbrella group which includes UVF and UDA leaders – insisted that none of its associated organizations “have been implicated. directly or indirectly in the violence we have witnessed in recent days”.

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