But none or convicted of paramilitary membership
Courts hears 20 men burst into Mount Bar in North Queen Street and issued threats
Three men have been jailed for a total of 20 months for their role with a “loyalist paramilitary gang” which stormed a north Belfast pub to issue threats.
Christopher Moore, of Woodvale Drive, Belfast and Andrew Morrow, of Lower Ballyboley Road, Ballyclare, both aged 27, were each jailed for six months after they admitted affray.
David Thomas Majury (49), of Wood Green in Holywood, Co Down, who also pleaded guilty to unlawfully displaying force and make affray, was sentenced to eight months in prison.
The men, who were either masked, had hoods or scarves up to conceal their faces, stormed the bar in the Tiger’s Bay district.
Judge Kevin Finnegan QC watched almost 20 minutes of footage taken from the bar’s CCTV system which had captured the incident.
It showed car loads of men arriving on the streets outside the bar before they rushed into the licensed premises where a number of women and young children were also present.
The footage showed customers being directed into a corner by the mob before the message was delivered by one of the masked men.
Witnesses told police that a list of five names was read out and warnings were issued that their alleged anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated.
Following the incident, police contacted all five people to issue warnings about their safety.
After the mob delivered the threats, the court heard that the masked men left the public bar and into waiting cars.
A prosecution barrister said Majury, Moore and Morrow left with scarves and hoods up and got into a car together.
When the vehicle was stopped and searched by police who had arrived quickly on the scene, one balaclava was said to have been recovered from under the driver’s seat.
The prosecution lawyer told Judge Finnegan: “This had all the hallmarks of a loyalist paramilitary gang.”
Defence barristers for the three men urged the court not to impose immediate custodial sentences, asking the judge to suspend any terms of imprisonment because of their personal circumstances.
But this was rejected by the prosecution, with a Crown lawyer telling the judge: “It is not appropriate for the court to impose suspended sentences given the nature of the incident.”
Judge Finnegan said that although in the words of one defence barrister “not a punch was thrown or a drink spilled”, society could not tolerate people taking the law into their own hands “whether is in a street, on a street corner or in a public house.”
He said a much more serious incident could have developed if police had not arrived on the scene as quick as they did.
Describing the incident as “serious”, Judge Finnegan said such offending warranted “deterrent sentences” from society, adding: “An immediate custodial sentence is called for.”
With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the original story