Northern Ireland

Londonderry church defecation accused reported to police by mum

A broken stained-glass window at Christ Church Image copyright Christ Church
Image caption A stained-glass window was smashed in the attack on Christ Church last month

A man accused of an attack on a church was reported to police by his mother after she recognised his image in a police appeal, a court has been told.

Christ Church in Londonderry was badly damaged in the break-in last month, and the repair bill could exceed £100,000.

James Anthony Kennedy, from Derry's Glenside Park, denies charges including theft, trespass and criminal damage.

Police told Londonderry Magistrates' Court that faeces was found on the pages of a Bible and the church organ.

Facebook appeal

The organ was extensively damaged during the break-in and a priceless crystal decanter was among several items stolen from the building.

The cost of the damage to the Church of Ireland building is estimated at between £75,000 and £100,000, police added, but that does not include the repair costs for the organ.

The court also heard that police had not identified a suspect until this week, when they published images of two men in a witness appeal on Facebook on Wednesday.

Mr Kennedy's mother claimed to have recognised him in one of the photographs and contacted police, leading to his arrest.

Image copyright Diocese of Derry and Raphoe
Image caption Damage caused to the church in the attack is estimated to cost up to £100,000

The 22-year-old restaurant worker faces a number of charges over the break-in on 12 September.

He is accused of entering Christ Church as a trespasser as well as stealing the decanter, a reader's robe, an organist's surplice and communion wine.

'Horrified'

He is also charged with causing criminal damage to the organ, a stained-glass window, a Bible and a boiler room.

After his arrest, he told police that the man in the image "looks like me" but he added: "I was not in the church."

Applying for bail, a defence solicitor said that Mr Kennedy had been horrified by what had happened but he denied the offences.

The defendant was released on his own bail of £500 and is due to appear in court again on 2 November.

Under his bail conditions, he is banned from entering within 220 yards (200m) of Christ Church and he must not contact the church's archdeacon.