Londonderry church burglary accused granted bail

Londonderry courthouse
Londonderry courthouse

A 22-year-old man who was identified to police by his mother has appeared in Londonderry Magistrates’ Court charged in connection with a break in at Christ Church in the city last month.

James Anthony Kennedy of Glenside Park in the city faced two charges.

He was charged with entering Christ Church as a trespasser on September 12 and stealing a priceless crystal decanter, a reader’s robe, communion wine and an organist’s surplice. He also faced a charge of criminal damage to a stained glass window, an organ, a bible and a boiler room also on the same date.

A police officer connected the accused to the charges and opposed bail.

The court was told that on September 12 a member of the congregation discovered the burglary.

A boiler house had been entered and the court heard that the perpetrators had defecated on the floor.

They then used a chair to climb up and break a 19th century stained glass window.

An organ that had been donated to the Church was damaged and it is estimated the damage will cost £50,000 to repair.

The damage to the window was put at £10,000 and overall the cost of damage was put at between £75,000 to £100,000.

Another item taken was a crystal decanter that a police officer said may have had a value but was priceless to the congregation having been donated by a family in memory of their daughter.

CCTV footage from Brooke Park was viewed and two men were seen in the vicinity and then they appear to climb a fence at the rear of the church.

The court heard after police released images of the men Kennedy’s mother contacted them identifying her son.

At interview Kennedy admitted it may be him on CCTV but denied being in the church.

He also made no comment to some of the allegations put to him.

In response to defence solicitor Mr. Paddy McGurk the officer said Kennedy had co-operated to a point’.

Mr. McGurk said his client had expressed his revulsion at this incident and said there was no suggestion he is sectarian.

He added that Kennedy’s mother was married to a member of the Protestant faith.

District Judge Barney McElholm said there seemed to be evidence putting Kennedy at the scene.

He said if there was evidence of sectarianism it was absolutely outrageous and rightfully would be punished severely.

But he added no matter how outrageous there was a presumption of innocence and released him on bail.

Kennedy was released on his own bail of £500 and one surety of £750 with condition he does not contact witnesses or any co-accused.

He is also not to go within 200 metres of Brooke Park or Christ Church.

Kennedy will appear on November 2.