News

Man in court after ‘mindless’ attack on church

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Man in court after ‘mindless’ attack on church thumbnailMINISTER for the First Presbyterian Church (Non-Subscribing), Newry, Rev Norman Hutton, holds glass from the broken window.

A THIRTY-five-year-old man appeared at Newry Magistrates Court after being charged with smashing the stain-glassed window of the First Presbyterian Church in John Mitchell Place on Tuesday night.

Evaldas Zidanavicius, of no fixed abode, was accused of causing upwards of £12,000 of damage at the church building in what has been described as an act of "mindless thuggery."

The court heard how Zidanavicius allegedly entered the church grounds on Tuesday evening around 9pm and proceeded to smash the recently-fitted stain glass window and its protective screen with an iron bar, before being apprehended by police officers who were alerted to the incident and attended the scene.

Reverend Norman Hutton condemned the incident, describing it as being "very disheartening" for the church's congregation and the wider community as a whole.

"It's wanton destruction and they then attempted to get in the front door, but it's a two-inch thick oak door, so that restrained them from getting into the church or God knows what damage they'd have done. Mindless thuggery is just what it is.

"This was basically one of the big photos windows we had refitted last year with an all-over laminate at a cost of £12,000.

"Even the protective screen didn't protect the window because whatever was thrown at it has actually damaged the screen and also went in and damaged the window itself. The window itself will have to be taken back to the artist's studio and re-leaded.

"It will cost as much as it did the last time, probably upwards of £12,000 because to replace the protective glass or whatever we're going to do; whether we'll have to go back to the grids. We wanted to get rid of the grids because we thought, in a period like this, it would be nice to let the windows be seen."

Rev. Hutton said that he was at a loss as to why the church was targeted.

"It's very disheartening for the people that sit in the pews because they raise the money to pay for these repairs. It's money just going down the drain so to speak.

 "I would just like to thank those who were concerned enough passing by to call in and see what was happening."

Ulster Unionist Councillor David Taylor slammed the incident and castigated those responsible. He said: "I am extremely angry that an attack has occurred on the building of First Presbyterian Church Non Subscribing Newry.  I condemn the actions of the individuals who perpetrated this heinous act in the strongest possible terms.

"The damage caused to the Church building runs into many thousands of pounds and there is no doubt having spoken to members of First Presbyterian Church Non Subscribing Newry that this incident has caused deep distress to their congregation.

"I would call upon the local community to rally around the congregation of First Presbyterian Church Non Subscribing Newry and to offer their full support to members of the Church.

"I would also appeal to anyone with information in respect of the incident to report it to the Police immediately," said Mr Taylor.

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