Lorry driver convicted of vandalising memorial has jail sentence halved

April 15, 2019

A lorry driver who was convicted of vandalizing the memorial at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint has had his sentence reduced from 12 months to six.

Robert McKeegan’s appeal against the original judgement was heard at Newry Appeal Court on Wednesday where Judge Gordon Kerr QC stated that an immediate custodial sentence was “fully justified” but he believed the original sentence was “excessive”.

In February McKeegan(44), from Beech Drive, Bleary, Craigavon, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to the Royal British Legion memorial marking the spot where 18 British soldiers were killed in an IRA bomb attack in August 1979.

Robert McKeegan pictured at a court hearing earlier this year.

He was jailed for six months with a further six months to be spent on supervised licence as District Judge Peter Magill described his actions as “a quite appalling offence of wanton destruction of a memorial to the dead”, adding “anyone who desecrates a memorial to the dead has stepped outside the bounds of any civilised society”.

The incident, which occurred on 4th October last year, was captured on CCTV that had been erected in the wake of previous attacks by vandals on the monument.  The video footage showed McKeegan getting out of his lorry while using his mobile phone and kicking crosses and wreaths at the memorial.  The damage is estimated to have cost £200.

Police tracked McKeegan’s lorry and arrested him two weeks later but he offered no comment during subsequent interviews.

At his original trial, a defence barrister told the court that McKeegan was “more than willing” to pay over £200, which was “testament for the genuine regret that he feels for his actions”.