Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Court appearance for memorial attack accused

 A lorry driver who has been accused of causing damage to the Narrow Water memorial is expected to have the charge formally put to him later this week.

Robert James McKeegan (44) appeared at Newry Magistrates Court on Wednesday last where Deputy District Judge Steven Keown released him on continuing bail, ordering him to return this week “for attitude” to the two charges against him. 

McKeegan, from Beech Drive, Bleary, Craigavon is accused of causing criminal damage to a memorial belonging to Royal British Legion on October 4th last year, intending to damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged.

The lorry driver is also charged with having an indecent image of a child on 14th November 2018 but there have been claims the image is more akin to a “vulgar joke”.

A previous court heard how the case against McKeegan involves CCTV images from cameras installed in the area following previous acts of vandalism.

Lorry driver Robert James McKeegan, who is accused of criminal damage of the Narrow Water memorial, appeared in Newry court on Wednesday

A prosecuting lawyer outlined to Belfast High Court: “One male exited the lorry while chatting on a mobile phone, kicking crosses and wreathes off display and damaging the memorial.”

The incident occurred at 7.30am 4th October 2018 and lasted for three minutes before the perpetrator drove off.

Dash cam footage was also examined as part of inquiries to locate the lorry involved.

McKeegan was then arrested after being stopped on the M1 and it has been claimed that his T-shirt appeared to be the same type as that worn by the man depicted in the CCTV images.

Cell-site analysis is being carried out in a bid to establish the location of the accused’s phone at the time of the attack.

In Wednesday’s court hearing, a prosecution lawyer physically handed copies of the CCTV footage to defence solicitor Conor Downey who confirmed he had also received “a certain amount of documents” and added “I don’t think there’s anything else outstanding.”

Judge Keown asked if the case against McKeegan was “proceedings summarily” and the prosecution confirmed it would be remaining in the Magistrates Court.