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999 call of Lurgan woman subjected to vile sectarian abuse played in court

Lurgan brothers Adrian and Alistair Douglas
Lurgan brothers Adrian and Alistair Douglas

A Lurgan man was so drunk he cannot remember hurling vile sectarian abuse at a Catholic woman who was intimated from her home by him and his older brother, a court heard today.

Craigavon Crown Court also heard that Adrian Douglas (35) had guzzled five bottles of Buckfast while he watched a Rangers vs Celtic football match on April 30 last year and how, a short time later, after Rangers were beaten, he was caught on CCTV hammering the door of Danielle Skelton.

Several times today, Judge Patrick Lynch KC watched the footage, captured on the victim’s Ring doorbell camera, in which Douglas can be seen staggering towards the door, repeatedly hammering on it, and is heard 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.”

In January, Adrian Douglas admitted intimidation, while his older brother, Alister Douglas (37), admitted aiding and abetting his brother in the intimidation on April 30 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 Ms Skelton on the same date.

Opening the prosecution case today, Crown counsel Nicola Auret conceded that the older defendant had “played a somewhat lesser role”, in that he banged the door once and did not make any sectarian remarks, but she asked the judge to hold that the offences “are aggravated by hostility, aggravated by religion”.

Ms Auret told the court how Ms Skelton had just put her 18-month-old son to bed and was sitting in her living room watching TV when she heard people “being rowdy” outside her then home at Ashleigh Crescent.

A short time later, she heard banging and shouting coming from her front door and living room window, leaving her “terrified… and she ran to her bedroom, from where she rang her parents and then the police”.

The eight-minute 999 call was played to the court: a crying and emotional Ms Skelton can be heard repeatedly pleading with the operator for the police to come to her home, describing: “I don’t know who’s outside… I’m on my own… they’re trying to put my windows in… he’s here hammering my door.”

Ms Skelton’s verbal description to the emergency operator matched what her doorbell camera had captured, in that protagonist Adrian Douglas was drunk, there were other people around and a woman had tried to coax him away from the door.

The witness can be heard telling him: “Adrian, get out now. Your nieces and nephews are watching you. They’re f****** watching you.”

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 that “everybody knew she’s Catholic”.

Each man claimed there had been sectarian comments, such as “huns”, coming from the property in weeks before the incident.

Ms Auret told the court, however, that “that is not accepted by the prosecution”, submitting there were multiple aggravating features to the case, including the protracted nature of the incident, that it was committed against a vulnerable single mum who was in her own home, but “the most serious aggravation is the sectarian nature of the incident”.

Adrian Douglas’s defence counsel, Patrick Taggart, conceded that “no right thinking member of society” could ever think his behaviour was acceptable but, emphasising that he has Catholic friends and relatives, “he has no history of sectarian abuse”.

Turning to medical evidence, Mr Taggart revealed that Adrian Douglas acts as a full-time carer for his long-term partner and that some of his children have medical needs, urging the judge to take an exceptional course.

Defence counsel Conor Coulter said Alister Douglas is “rightly ashamed of his behaviour”, but he argued that, given his lesser role, a community-based disposal of probation and/or community service would both punish him and allow the self-employed window cleaner to “make some practical reparations to the community”.

Freeing both men on bail, Judge Lynch said he would pass sentence next Thursday.

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