Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Lorry driver jailed for vandalising Narrow Water memorial

A lorry driver has been jailed for vandalizing a memorial belonging to the Royal British Legion, located at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint.

Robert James McKeegan, 44, of Beech Drive, Bleary, Craigavon had admitted causing damage to the memorial marking the spot where 18 British soldiers were killed in an IRA bomb attack in August 1979.

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, according to a prosecutor.

Police tracked McKeegan’s lorry and arrested him but he offered no comment during interviews, the court was told.

At Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, McKeegan was sentenced to six months in prison and a further six months on licence following his release.

Describing the act as “wanton destruction”, the judge said: “Anyone who desecrates a memorial to the dead has stepped outside the bounds of any civilised society.

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”.

He was freed on £100 bail, pending an appeal of the jail sentence.