10 Aug 2022

Pensioner called his neighbours 'Fenian prostitutes from Foyle Street' and claimed he would get 'people from the Shankhill' to put them out of their home

A County Derry pensioner who called his neighbours ‘Fenian prostitutes from Foyle Street’ has narrowly avoided a jail sentence. Philip Murray, of Shackleton Crescent, Ballykelly, also claimed he was going to get ‘people from the Shankill’ to put his neighbours out of their home during the incident on August 12. Police were called to the estate following reports that 65-year-old Murray was shouting ‘sectarian abuse’ towards his neighbours. Residents told police that Murray, who appeared intoxicated, had a rope around his neck and had attempted to throw the other end around the branch of a tree. One neighbour claimed that he had called them ‘Fenian prostitutes from Foyle Street’ and said he was going to get people from the Shankhill to put them out of their homes. The woman claimed that when she had arrived home with her partner, Murray was standing by trees near her house. She stated that he shouted: “Get you into the house you Fenian b*****d and see that other Fenian can go to f**k.” When police arrived, Murray called officers ‘Fenian b*****ds’. Murray was arrested and while police were escorting him to the vehicle he turned around and shouted: “I’ll be back Fenian b*****ds.” He also told police to tell one of his neighbours he was ‘coming back for her’. Murray’s barrister, Eoin Devlin said in the past the defendant was ‘almost a daily feature’ in courts in Derry and Limavady. He said Murray had been sober for six years which was reflected in his criminal record as his last offences were committed back in 2012. Mr Devlin said Murray ‘fell off the wagon’ on the date in question. Describing the defendant’s behaviour towards his neighbours as ‘appalling’, Mr Devlin added that ‘no violence was used’. During sentencing, District Judge Peter King told Murray that he had ‘put his liberty in serious jeopardy’ due to the ‘sectarian nature of what was said’, the threats he made to damage property and the fact that he has 109 previous convictions. Addressing Murray, Judge King said: “I know your background.  It’s quite clear when you start drinking you attract police attention and end up in court. “Your last appearance in court was in 2012, six years ago.  You don’t have to be a genius to work out the causing of your offending is alcohol.” Judge King told Murray that the custody threshold was ‘well and truly crossed due to the sectarian nature’ of his comments. Handing down a ten month prison sentence, Judge King told Murray that he would suspend it for three years because he had managed to stay out for trouble for the past six years. “I suspect if you stay off the drink you will not be back before the court. “If you are back for anything that has a whiff of sectarianism, you will face ten months in custody,” warned the judge.

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