Bogside rioter recognised by police when mask came off, court told

Fahan Street in the city in July 2018.
Fahan Street in the city in July 2018.

A Derry petrol bomber who was recognised by police when his mask came off during rioting in the Bogside is to be sentenced at the local Crown Court tomorrow.

John Paul Moore (23), whose address was given as care of Maghaberry Prison, pleaded guilty to one charge of riotous assembly, five charges of possessing petrol bombs in suspicious circumstances and four charges of throwing petrol bombs at police officers and damaging a police vehicle.

A prosecution barrister told Judge Elizabeth McCaffrey at yesterday’s plea and sentence hearing that, during a sustained period of rioting on the night of July 12 and early morning of July 13 last year, Moore had been struck with “an energy projectile” fired by the police.

The impact of the strike, she said, knocked off a makeshift mask Moore was wearing and he was immediately recognised by a police officer.

When he was subsequently arrested and interviewed by police and shown ground level CCTV footage as well as aerial film footage, Moore told police to “prove it”. During a second interview, he told police: “I couldn’t give a f**k”.

The prosecutor said that up to 200 people had taken part in the disturbances and many of them, including Moore, threw petrol bombs at police lines.

“The defendant was active and persistent in his activities,” she said.

Ground level CCTV and footage filmed by police air support cover identified him throwing petrol bombs, she said.

On one occasion, the court heard, Moore was observed lowering his shorts and exposing his backside to police. At 3.30 a.m., he was seen by police trying to light a device and it was then that he was struck by an energy projectile.

The defendant, the court was told, dropped the device when struck and removed a red sleeve mask from his face. It was then that he was recognised by a police officer who had known him for four to five years. A youth emerged from the crowd and approached the defendant who hastily replaced the mask over his face, said the barrister.

The prosecutor said the defendant, who had twenty-seven previous convictions, had a history of disorderly behaviour.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney said the defendant, who was addicted to drugs and alcohol at the time, gave in to temptation when presented with the opportunity to commit the offences.

He said Moore deserved some credit, in terms of sentencing, for manning up to the offences.

“As regards what he said when arrested, he can be a big man during interviews but he is a small boy when it comes to today’s proceedings,” he added. “He now apologises to the police and to the members of the public who were the victims of his offending.”

Moore was remanded in continuing custody until Wednesday when he will be sentenced.