‘Spiderman’ rioter sentenced to three years for pelting police with bricks

Ronnie Nelson (29) will serve 18 months followed by 18 months on supervised parole

The jury  rejected Ronnie Nelson’s  claims that he was not the man behind the Spiderman mask and convicted him. File picture: Getty

The jury rejected Ronnie Nelson’s claims that he was not the man behind the Spiderman mask and convicted him. File picture: Getty


A 29-year-old mechanic convicted of being the ‘Spiderman’ rioter captured on CCTV pelting police with house bricks was on Tuesday sentenced to three years.

The father of two, Ronnie Nelson, from East Way in Rathcoole, with praising references from Newtownabbey’s DUP Mayor, and a councillor, will serve 18 months jail followed by 18 months on supervised licensed parole.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland initially questioned the references from Mayor, Alderman Thomas Hogg and Cllr Stephen Ross, until it became clear they were written in a “personal capacity” and not on behalf of the residents of Newtownabbey.

Judge McFarland told Nelson that Belfast had enough rioters without others travelling to the city to add to trouble. He added that rioters must realise there was not only an individual crime, but a collective crime, and therefore all must bear responsibility for the entire riot and its costs both in financial terms and the harm caused.

Nelson, said the Crown Court judge, was involved in an extremely bad riot which caused not only massive inconvenience and disruption, but also injury to police, 58 in total, called to deal with the significant disturbance.

Earlier defence lawyer Paul Bacon, who said the references described a person who was deeply involved in community work, revealed that Nelson remains resolute that he has been wrongly convicted.

Mr Bacon said Nelson had led an absolutely blameless life, with an exemplary work record, but now lamentably, given his conviction, his life was effectively in ruins.

Reports, he added, did not find Nelson to be a danger to others or of likelihood of re-offending, and that he was a man, never ever likely to darken the door of a court again.

Last month his two-day trial heard that an unmasked Nelson was initially seen on police surveillance tapes wearing a distinctive grey Adidas tracksuit with yellow stripes approaching a loyalist counter demonstration to an anti-internment parade on August 9th, 2013.

Moments later he was seen again, this time as the masked Spiderman, attacking police lines on Belfast’s Royal Avenue, throwing seven or more bricks.

Afterward police scanning the tapes could find no-one on the CCTV footage wearing the same distinctive Adidas yellow-striped tracksuit. When interviewed and shown the footage, Nelson admitted he was that man, but denied donning the Spiderman mask.

The jury did not agree, and rejected his claims that he was not the man behind the mask and convicted Nelson, who had stood in the dock shaking his head.