Coronavirus

Police arrest man after sectarian rampage sees church among properties damaged with graffiti

Most of the graffiti was of a sectarian nature

A 25-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of sectarian hate crime which included 25 counts of criminal damage.

The rampage happened in the Albert Place area of Ballymena, Co Antrim on Wednesday night, with police receiving reports at 10.10pm.

The wall of West Presbyterian Church, a doctors surgery, cars and a shop were among the targets.

A council cleansing team was working at the site yesterday morning.

Inspector Mick Wood said "graffiti, using white paint, daubed onto various properties in the area, including on Sydney Lane, High Street, Albert Place, the local Court House and premises on Lower Mill Street as well as two vehicles".

"Most of the graffiti was of a sectarian nature and, so, we are treating these as sectarian hate crimes.

"The 25-year-old was subsequently arrested and he remains in custody this morning, assisting us with our enquiries.

"Our enquiries are continuing and I would appeal to anyone who has information which could assist our investigation to call us on 101, and quote reference number 1926 of 08/04/20."

TUV councillors Matthew Armstrong and Timothy Gaston said it was sad to see such actions when "at a time of national and international crisis the like of which few of us have seen in our lifetime communities are coming together".

"We very much hope that the circumstances in which this attack was carried out will be considered by the courts and that a strong message will be sent that this disgusting behaviour will not be tolerated by society.

SDLP councillor Eugene Reid said he "strongly condemned" it.

"Much of this graffiti was of a sectarian nature and would have undoubtedly caused distress to families and children in the area.

In the most challenging time in a generation, the community of Ballymena has pulled together to fight back againt Covid-19. These senseless acts undermine that and are not representative of the local community."

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