Clergy at Christ Church in Londonderry have said they forgive two men who desecrated the church during a break-in over two years ago during which damage estimated at £75,000 was caused.
25-year-old Harry Duffy, from Elmwood Terrace in the city, and James Anthony Kennedy, who is 24, and from Glenside Park, were jailed for two years and eight months. They’ll both serve part of their sentence on licence.
In a statement, the Rector of Christ Church, Archdeacon Robert Miller, and the parish’s Pastoral Director, Rev Katie McAteer, said they forgave the two intruders and thanked the judge for the sensitive way in which he had dealt with “what has, for our parishioners, been a most distressing case”.
Archdeacon Miller and Rev McAteer’s statement in full:
“We are thankful that this matter has now been dealt with by the courts and grateful to Judge Philip Babington for the sensitive manner in which he has dealt with what has – for our parishioners – been a most distressing case.
“It is of some comfort to us to learn that, in Judge Babington’s words, there was no ‘religious or sectarian aspect’ to this offending. Indeed, since the break-in, we in Christ Church have been blessed and encouraged by the sympathy and support shown to us by well-wishers from right across the community – most notably by our closest neighbours in St Eugene’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.
“We take no pleasure from the significant custodial sentences handed down to the two offenders. We do feel, however, that actions have consequences and that all of us should be accountable before the law.
“On behalf of the parishioners of Christ Church, we now consider this matter closed. As Rector and as Pastoral Director, we forgive Harry Duffy and James Kennedy for what they did and will be holding them in our prayers. We hope the two men can learn from this incident and that they will succeed in getting their lives back on track.”