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Two men who broke into and defacated in Derry Church jailed

£75,000 worth of damage caused to Church of Ireland's Christ Church

Two men who broke into and defacated in Derry Church jailed

£75,000 worth of damage was caused to Christ Church on Infirmary Road

Two Derry men who broke into a local Protestant church, causing £75,000 worth of damage, have each been jailed for two years and eight months at the city's Crown Court.

Harry Duffy, 25, from Elmwood Terrace and James Anthony Kennedy, 24, from Glenside Park, admitted burgling the Church of Ireland Christ Church on Infirmary Road (off Northland Road) on 12 September 2017 and stealing items including a crystal decanter, a surplice and a set of reader's robes. None of the stolen items was recovered.
They also admitted damaging furnishings and fittings inside the church, including the church organ.

The court heard police officers investigating the break-in found scenes of human defecation inside the building.

One of the men had defecated inside the church's boiler room and human excrement was smeared on the church organ and on pages which had been ripped from a Bible.
In total, they caused an estimated £75,000 worth of damage both inside and outside the church, for which the diocesan insurers paid £58,500.
Jailing both men, who have mental health disorders, Judge Philip Babington said their behaviour was "quite disgraceful aggravated as it was by taking place at and within a place of worship.

“Some of the damage caused was both shocking and disgusting. It caused very great sadness and upset to the members of Christ Church.

“It was also completely senseless destroying as it did a 19th century stained glass window and causing over £40,000 worth of damage to a musical instrument, the organ.

“In addition there was the sentimental loss of a decanter which was given to the church by a family in member of a deceased daughter."

Judge Babington said there was no doubt in his mind that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol and drugs caused both defendants to behave in the way they did.
"Although at first glance one might wonder if there was some religious or sectarian aspect to this offending I am quite satisfied that this is not the case", he said.
Both were jailed for two years and eight months. They will serve a portion of the sentence on licence.

Judge Babington said there was no doubt in his mind that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol and drugs caused both Kennedy and Duffy to behave in the way they did.
"Although at first glance one might wonder if there was some religious or sectarian aspect to this offending I am quite satisfied that this is not the case", he said.
Both were each jailed for two years and eight months and will serve a portion of their sentences on licence.

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