Two ‘stupid individuals’ shouted sectarian abuse at the Salvation Army as they paraded in the city centre, a court has heard.
Lee Coyle (19) and 20-year-old Stephen O’Reilly, both of Bloomfield Park, pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour on June 6th.
The men also admitted assaulting and resisting police.
Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the Salvation Army was involved in a parade on this date and had been due to play music in The Diamond for around 45 minutes.
However, they were forced to leave early because of the defendants ‘abusive and aggressive behaviour.’
As the Salvation Army bands made their way into The Diamond, Coyle stood in the middle of the road.
He refused police requests to move and began shouting ‘orange b*******’ at the band.
The 19-year-old continued to be abusive and shoved a female police officer on the chest.
Coyle was arrested and struggled violently.
Following Coyle’s arrest, 20-year-old O’Reilly became agitated.
The court heard he also shouted sectarian abuse at the Salvation Arm band and said ‘f*** the PSNI’.
He repeatedly shouted ‘orange b*******’ towards the band.
O’Reilly was arrested and kicked out at police.
The court heard the incident took place in front of a large crowd of shoppers on a busy Saturday afternoon.
The defendants caused disruption to the band and other pedestrians who had to take ‘evasive action’.
Eoghan Devlin, defence counsel for O’Reilly, said ‘it is hard to imagine a more stellar combination of ignorance and stupidity than directing those particular comments towards those particular people.’
He said the defendants are ‘two stupid individuals who have not taken the time to notice the make-up of our society before they start slabbering.’
Mr. Devlin told the court at the time the offences were committed his client had addiction issues, but is trying to deal with them.
Steven Mooney, defence counsel for Coyle, said his client’s behaviour was ‘drunken, obnoxious, yobbishness’.
He added the 19-year-old has little or no recollection about what happened’ because he was drunk and wished to apologise for his behaviour.
Mr. Mooney said that it is ‘hard to imagine a softer target for this thuggish behaviour than the Salvation Army’ but, thankfully, it did not have the potential to cause ‘widespread public disorder.’
District Judge Barney McElholm adjourned sentencing to allow both men to save a total of £500 for the Salvation Army.
He said: ‘These two are not just bigots, they are stupid bigots. The Salvation Army for heaven’s sake.’
The judge said this particular organisation ‘don’t restrict itself to one faith. It will help anyone in need and the idea that good people like that are subject to this form of grossly vile sectarian abuse should fill any right thinking person with horror.’
He added that women and children who were out shopping also had to witness the incident.
Judge McElholm said both defendants deserved to go to prison, however, he said they will received a suspended sentence if they raise the money by November 30th.
Coyle and O’Reilly will be subject to bail conditions until that date which ban them from consuming alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.