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Intimidation of young mum was fuelled by sectarian hatred after Celtic beat Rangers

Lurgan brothers Adrian and Alistair Douglas

A Co. Armagh man who subjected a single mum to a terrifying intimidation ordeal when he was fuelled by alcohol and sectarian hatred after Celtic beat Rangers, was handed a 20 month sentence on Thursday.

Ordering Adrian Douglas to serve half his sentence in jail and half on licence, Judge Patrick Lynch KC told the 35-year-old his offences were so serious that “clearly the custody threshold has been passed” and irrespective of his family difficulties, he had to go to jail.

While “instigator and protagonist” Adrian Douglas was put into handcuffs and taken to the cells at Craigavon Crown Court, his older brother 37-year-old Alister Douglas walked out of the court after his 12 month sentence was suspended for three years.

Judge Lynch said it was clear that he had played a lesser role and indeed, had tried to persuade his brother to leave the victim alone, adding that it was a “great pity” his efforts had failed.

Sentencing the brothers, the judge said he was satisfied their offences are aggravated by reason of religious hatred and warned that “sectarianism has bedevilled our community for centuries and it is a tragedy that atavistic hatreds still emerge…through the emotions of a defeat in a Scottish football match, fuelled by alcohol.”

“It must be made known that the courts will impose severe sentences to emphasise that such expressions of hostility through violence, the threat of violence or other methods ion intimidation will not be tolerated,” Judge Lynch warned.

Last January Adrian Douglas admitted intimidation while his older brother Alister Douglas admitted aiding and abetting his brother in the intimidation on 30 April last year.

The Lurgan brothers, from Carrick Drive and Charles Baron Gardens respectively, also admitted a charge of attempting to cause criminal damage to a front door belonging to Danielle Skelton on the same date.

Ms Skelton was watching proceedings online on Thursday and heard the judge comment that her fear and distress in the 999 call she made as her front door and window were hammered and banged “was palpable.”

Judge Lynch outlined that with her 18-month-old son asleep in bed, Ms Skelton was in her living room when she became aware of noise and shouting outside her former home on Ashleigh Crescent in Lurgan.

As Adrian Douglas, who had guzzled five bottles of buckfast, was banging and shouting on her front door, she fled upstairs to her room where she called her parents and the police but thankfully, the brothers’ action were caught on the victim’s doorbell camera.

Giving a detailed outline of the almost three minute video, Judge Lynch told the court how Adrian Douglas could be seen staggering towards the door where he repeatedly hammers it with feet and fists and rattles the letter box on while shouting “Fenians are in here…taigs here…f****** fenian b*******…I want to talk to her…out to f***…f****** fenian c***…no rebels here.”

There were other people around and a woman had tried to coax Adrian Douglas away from the door, telling him “Adrian get out now – your nieces and nephews are watching you, they’re f****** watching you…big man” but he ignores her and hammering the door shouts “out to f***.”

“Here I’m only having a laugh, having a laugh someone, open the f****** door b****** ye, f****** fenian c***,” Adrian Douglas is recorded as saying.

Initially his brother Alister tried to shepherd him away too but within seconds, he changes his tune and trying to cover the camera with his hand, tells him to “get that f****** camera off.”

The brothers were arrested a short time after the incident but both were too drunk to interview until the following day and while Adrian Douglas accepted his behaviour had been “disgusting” and he was ashamed of himself, he claimed not to know the victim is Catholic.

His brother on the other hand, told cops “everybody knew she’s catholic” but each man claimed there had been sectarian comments such as “huns” coming from the property in weeks before the incident.

PPS counsel had told the court those claims are “not accepted by the prosecution” and Judge Lynch said that in any event there was no excuse for the attack on Ms Skelton’s home.

Her “completely understandable reaction” was to flee her home and the judge said that since the offence was committed “the one voice that hasn’t been heard” was that of the victim.

Judge Lynch told the court she had written a victim impact statement where she detailed how the incident had effected multiple aspect of her life including that “moving address was stressful enough” but even having moved home, she still feels “high levels of stress and anxiety and petrified to leave” her son at home.

He said while the Douglas brothers have expressed “shame and embarrassment” at their behaviour, their remorse “will not repair the damage that they have caused.”

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