Eight months jail sentence for man who painted graffiti on church property in Larne

Eight months jail sentence for man who painted graffiti on church property in Larne

A COURT has heard graffiti daubed at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Larne must have left worshippers feeling 'alarmed'.

Karl Anthony Hugh McCormick - formerly known as Ashe - (31), previously with an address at Seacourt Road in Larne but now listed as in Belfast, admitted causing criminal damage to the walls of the Hall at Seacliff Road in Larne.

He further admitted causing criminal damage to Council property and the door of a house in the Seacourt area of Larne on January 18 this year.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court that at 1.30am police received a report from a resident of graffiti on his front door which said 'INLA' along with a "target sign".

The householder then noticed the defendant had white paint on his hands.

Police also noticed "similar fresh graffiti on Council property and property belonging to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses".

District Judge Nigel Broderick asked what had been written on the church property, "INLA?" and the prosecutor replied: "Yes" and that it was similar to that at the dwelling.

McCormick was arrested and police noticed he had white paint on his hands.

When interviewed he made full admissions.

The court heard the defendant was in breach of a five months suspended sentence.

A defence barrister said the defendant had a "long running dispute" with a man and after drinking heavily had painted a "really unpleasant" message at the man's address.

The lawyer said the defendant could not offer "any explanation" as to why the "same message" was put on the church property.

The barrister added: "That is obviously an aggravating feature, outwith his original intent in the case, save that it related in his own mind to the same issue with the complainant. It might have been that in the stupor that he was in at the time he thought the connection would have been obvious.

"One can only imagine how alarmed the worshippers might have been at that church to see a message like that depicted on the wall".

He said the defendant wished to apologise, Court News NI can report.

Judge Broderick noted that in the past McCormick claimed he couldn't do Community Service because he felt he was "under threat" but had then said he was going to go back and live in Larne.

"Either Larne is a safe place for him or it's not. He seems to be putting forward Larne as a difficult place to go back to to avoid doing Community Service but yet he is going to go back there to live. I found that not consistent," said the judge.

The defence lawyer said police had previously served a 'threat notice' on the defendant.

"There does remain an issue in respect of his safety in Larne but his longer term plan would be to return," the defence barrister added.

Jailing McCormick for eight months, Judge Broderick told him: "You are running round painting slogans on walls and Places of Worship with no justification whatsoever".

Bail was fixed for appeal in the sum of £500.