Acts of ‘wanton vandalism’ impact on Destined services

The manager of Destined Derry has told how the ‘wanton vandalism’ inflicted on the organisation’s vehicles over the weekend greatly impacted on services.

Dermot O’Hara spoke to the ‘Journal’ after the vehicles, including an eight-seater, wheelchair-accessible bus, were ‘smashed up’ by a man who also defecated at their car park on Foyle Road.

Destined Derry is a support organisation for people with learning disabilities. The damage to the vehicles is estimated to be in the region of £3000-£4000.

Mr O’Hara said the incident occurred at 5.30am on Sunday when the as-yet unidentified male entered the car park overseen by ‘Derry Taxis’ (which is owned by Destined.) CCTV shows the man ‘checking around’ all of the vehicles for around 15 minutes, before ‘defecating in the corner where the carwash is’.

The damaged eight-seater vehicle belonging to Destined.

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“He then gathered a pile of stones and smashed one of the black taxis. There was also the eight-seater and he damaged that and another car in the process.”

Mr O’Hara said CCTV also shows the man going to a nearby car park on John Street and damaging a vehicle. Police are currently investigating. The incident ‘could not have happened at a worse time’ as Monday mornings are ‘extremely busy,’ he added. The vehicles are used to bring members into the centre, as well as to ferry children to schools. The organisation owns two eight-seaters, but the other vehicle is currently in the garage getting serviced.

Mr O’Hara said: “We were already under a bit of pressure with one (eight-seater) and then this happened. It caused all sorts of problems. We also lift schoolchildren from school and this really impacted our work on Monday morning. The whole purpose for buying these vehicles was that they are used for social inclusion - getting people out of their homes and into the community. We couldn’t do this today as we couldn’t get adequate transport. There were people left sitting in their houses this morning.”

Mr O’Hara told how other local community groups offered their vehicles, which was much appreciated.

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However, they couldn’t take them up on the offer as they needed one with disability access. Mr O’Hara said the team at Destined reorganised and rearranged other work and ‘managed to do what we could do’.

Mr O’Hara said the fact the man damaged a car at John St means they ‘hope’the ‘wanton vandalism’ wasn’t a targeted attack on Destined.

“The police asked us to put a price on the damage and we estimated around £3000-£4000 but it’s not the cost, it’s the impact on the service we provide in the community.” Destined will now have to decide whether to contact their insurance company or pay for the damage themselves, “but either way, it will cost us money, which will, in turn, affect our services,” said Mr O’Hara.