A Co Antrim man accused of “an attack on democracy’’ has escaped going to prison after he was caught trying to break into an Alliance Party constituency office armed with an axe and a crowbar.
Handing down a 12-month sentence suspended for three years to Charles Mervyn Jamison, 39, of Old Glenarm Road, Larne, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said the “wanton vandalism’’ was also an “attack on the right of people to freely hold their political views”.
Prosecuting counsel Roseanne McCormick told Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that on July 19, 2013, police in Larne received a report of a “smashing sound’’ coming from the rear of premises in the town’s Main Street.
“Police attended the scene where they located the smashing sound had come from the rear of 97 Main Street,’’ said Ms McCormick.
“They found the defendant inside the property in the communal hall where the Alliance Party office is located in the same premises.
“The defendant was holding an axe and a crowbar and was smashing the door and the lock of the door to the Alliance Party office.”
She said Jamison appeared intoxicated and was arrested. Asked why he was attacking the office, he told police: “I just don’t like the Alliance Party.”
Former coach builder Jamison, who was described as a ‘functioning alcoholic’, admitted during police interview that the axe and crowbar were his and he intended to enter the office and trash it. He apologised for his actions.
Jamison pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary with intent to cause unlawful damage. A further charge of going equipped for burglary was left on the books.
The judge granted an application for compensation of £1,390 to the landlord of the property for damage.
Defence barrister Paul Bacon said: “This was an utterly and completely disgraceful incident which was not part of any orchestrated campaign.”
He added that Jamison was working part-time and had saved up the money to pay for the office repairs.
Judge Fowler said that had Jamison contested the case and been convicted, he would have been sentenced to 18 months in custody.