‘Sectarian, violent and nasty’

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A judge has labelled a man who threw petrol bombs at police and the city’s walls “sectarian, nasty and violent”.

A judge has labelled a man who threw petrol bombs at police and the city’s walls “sectarian, nasty and violent”.

Derry Crown Court Judge Piers Grant made the comments as he jailed 24-year-old Caolan Kavanagh for six years.

Kavanagh, whose address was given on court papers as c/o HMP Maghaberry, pleaded guilty to a number of offences committed on August 12 and 13, last year.

They included rioting, possessing, throwing and making petrol bombs, and criminal damage.

The court heard Kavanagh was part of a crowd attacking police, following the annual touching of the gate ceremony by the Apprentice Boys. A number of rocks and petrol bombs were thrown at police in Fahan Street and the 24-year-old was identified on camera footage throwing petrol bombs and handing them out to others.

The following day, after the Apprentice Boys parade, Kavanagh threw petrol bombs at the city’s walls causing scorch damage.

A number of Apprentice Boys and members of the public standing on the walls had to be pushed back by police and a number of petrol bombs landed in the area where they had been.

The 24-year-old also threw a petrol bomb which hit a police landrover, but “fortunately” no damage or injury was caused.

Jailing Kavanagh for six years, with an extended licence period of two years, Judge Grant said Kavanagh had admitted a “series of sectarian attacks which put the public in danger”.

He said the 24-year-old was a “ringleader” in the public disorder over this August weekend and it was “only through good fortune and the actions taken by police that no-one was injured”.

The judge added Kavanagh had shown “complete hatred” for the Apprentice Boys and he was “happy to engage in sectarian violence”.

The 24-year-old has been assessed as posing a significant risk of harm to the public as a result of his previous convictions. These include an arson attack on the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in 2008 when 300 people were inside attending a charity event.

Judge Grant said he had “no doubt” Kavanagh has a “real manifest hostility towards the people in these parades and you intended to hurt people simply because you disagree with them”.

He then urged the 24-year-old and others who hold the same views to “move aside and let the decent people of this city get on with celebrating the UK City of Culture in a meaningful way”.

The judge said Derry is a “city struggling to better itself and to improve the relationship between communities”.

He said it was quite clear when Derry was awarded the title of UK City of Culture, people were “proud of what this city is achieving and look forward to showing off this city internationally to its best advantage”.

Judge Grant added that people like Kavanagh who go out onto the streets and riot “set the work of other people back many months, if not years”.

He said Kavanagh and other rioters “set the image of Derry as a violent, nasty place. It is not. You are violent. You are nasty”.