Brothers Adrian and Alister Douglas sentenced over intimidating young Lurgan mother

A 22-year-old mother, who was the victim of vile sectarian intimidation, has hit out at the sentence handed down to the brothers who left her fearing for her life in her own home.

In an emotional interview Danielle Skelton said both should have been jailed.

"They didn't get long enough," she told UTV. "I had to leave my home permanently."

Adrian Douglas, who is 35 and from Carrick Drive in Lurgan, will serve half his 20-month sentence in jail and half on licence, after admitting intimidation in April last year.

His older brother Alister, whos 37 and from Charles Baron Gardens in Lurgan, walked out of the court after his 12 month sentence, for aiding and abetting his brother, was suspended for three years.

Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must consider a range of factors when handing down sentences. Ordering Adrian Douglas to serve half his sentence in jail and half on licence, Judge Patrick Lynch KC told the 35-year-old his offences were so serious that “clearly the custody threshold has been passed” and irrespective of his family difficulties, he had to go to jail.

While “instigator and protagonist” Adrian Douglas was put into handcuffs and taken to the cells at Craigavon Crown Court, his older brother 37-year-old Alister Douglas walked out of the court after his 12-month sentence was suspended for three years.

Judge Lynch said it was clear that he had played a lesser role and indeed, had tried to persuade his brother to leave the victim alone, adding that it was a “great pity” his efforts had failed.

Sentencing the brothers, the judge said he was satisfied their offences were aggravated by reason of religious hatred and warned that “sectarianism has bedevilled our community for centuries and it is a tragedy that atavistic hatreds still emerge … through the emotions of a defeat in a Scottish football match, fuelled by alcohol.”

“It must be made known that the courts will impose severe sentences to emphasise that such expressions of hostility through violence, the threat of violence or other methods ion intimidation will not be tolerated,” Judge Lynch warned.

Last January Adrian Douglas admitted intimidation while his older brother Alister Douglas admitted aiding and abetting his brother in the intimidation on 30 April last year.

The Lurgan brothers, from Carrick Drive and Charles Baron Gardens respectively, also admitted a charge of attempting to cause criminal damage to a front door belonging to Danielle Skelton on the same date.

Ms Skelton was watching proceedings online on Thursday and heard the judge comment that her fear and distress in the 999 call she made as her front door and window were hammered and banged “was palpable.”

Judge Lynch outlined that with her 18-month-old son asleep in bed, Ms Skelton was in her living room when she became aware of noise and shouting outside her former home on Ashleigh Crescent in Lurgan.

Judge Lynch told the court she had written a victim impact statement where she detailed how the incident had affected multiple aspect of her life including that “moving address was stressful enough” but even having moved home, she still feels “high levels of stress and anxiety and petrified to leave” her son at home.

He said while the Douglas brothers have expressed “shame and embarrassment” at their behaviour, their remorse “will not repair the damage that they have caused.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Brendan Green said: "It is heartening to see that a custodial sentence has been passed in the case and I hope it sends a clear message to anyone who believes sectarianism or intimidation in any capacity is ok.

"From the outset, this attack was viewed as a sectarian hate crime and was treated with the utmost seriousness.

"We believe everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and we will continue to make every effort to ensure that this happens, prevent future incidents, and to hold offenders accountable before the courts.

"I commend the victim for her bravery and tenacity in seeing her case through the criminal justice system and I hope today’s outcome offers her some degree of closure on what has undoubtedly been a difficult and challenging time."

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