Nine acquitted at Raytheon trial

Protesters blocked the entrance to Raytheon in January 2009
Image caption Protesters blocked the entrance to Raytheon in January 2009

Nine women have been acquitted of breaking into an arms manufacturing company to cause criminal damage.

The women were part of a group who protested at the Raytheon offices in Londonderry in January 2009.

However, James King, 67, of Hatmore Park, Derry, was found guilty of criminal damage and intent to cause criminal damage.

Kieran Gallagher, 44, from Dunservick Park, was convicted of impersonating a police officer.

The jury at Belfast Crown Court deliberated for an hour on Friday.

The women acquitted were 35-year-old Julia Torrojo from Glenside Gardens, Roisin Barton, 61, from Brandywell Avenue, 54-year-old Goretti Horgan from Westland Avenue, Elizabeth Doherty, 52, from the Little Diamond, 65-year-old Diana King from Hatmore Park, 61-year-old Helen Reynolds from Fahan Street and Roisin Bryce, 42, from Ardnomoyle Park, all in Derry.

Two women from the Irish Republic were also on trial - 35-year-old Sharron Meenan from Dameragh, Fahan, and 52-year-old Jackie McKenna from Sliabhan, Killarogue.

Mr Gallagher was given an 12-month conditional discharge, and Mr King was fined £75 with an £80 compensation order for cleaning the wall he sprayed with paint.

On Tuesday, the court heard there was not enough evidence to convict Rory McDermott, 26, John McMonagle, 65, and Bernard McFadden, 56, all from Derry.

Judge Tom Burgess told the jury he would be directing them to acquit the men of the charges they faced.

'War crimes'

During the trial, the court heard that after the women were arrested and released, each of the women attended voluntarily to be interviewed by police, and that during police questioning, all of them admitted to breaking into Raytheon in order to cause damage to the main computer server.

The women claimed they had done so in order to protect the lives and property of people in the Gaza Strip and to stop alleged war crimes being committed by the Israeli forces.

Speaking outside court on Friday a spokesperson for the group said they were "grateful to the jury and proud of ourselves".

"The verdict represents an acceptance that what we did was not a crime but an attempt to prevent crime, a crime against humanity which continues to be inflicted on the people of Gaza by the Israeli defence forces."

It is not the first time people accused of trying to cause criminal damage to the Raytheon offices have been acquitted.

In 2008, six people, including journalist Eamonn McCann, were found not guilty. They were charged following a protest at Raytheon in August 2006.

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