Former Lance corporal (74) damaged cars and a house in Ballymena whilst shouting: ‘Up the Ulstermen, f**k these Czechs’

FacebookTwitterEmailWhatsApp A retired army lance-corporal went on a rampage with a hammer damaging cars and a house whilst shouting: “Up the Ulstermen, f**k these Czechs”. James Joseph Coleman, (74), formerly of Chichester Park East but now of Glenravel Fold in Ballymena, admitted a number of offences which happened near his then home on September 6 […]

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A retired army lance-corporal went on a rampage with a hammer damaging cars and a house whilst shouting: “Up the Ulstermen, f**k these Czechs”.

James Joseph Coleman, (74), formerly of Chichester Park East but now of Glenravel Fold in Ballymena, admitted a number of offences which happened near his then home on September 6 last year.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court, on Thursday, it was a “hate crime”.

She said police received a report of a man smashing car windows and police found him with blood on his hands.

Residents had restrained the defendant and had taken a hammer from him.

Coleman had previously pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage to two cars and being disorderly at Chichester Park East in Ballymena.

He also admitted assaulting a man and causing criminal damage to a kitchen window and door.

He further admitted possessing an offensive weapon – a hammer – with intent to commit an offence.

When interviewed by police the defendant initially said he had been very drunk and had no memory of the incident.

The court heard he wished to apologise and had written a letter of apology.

The total amount of damage caused was not given to the court but it was heard the window and door at the house cost £110 to fix whilst Coleman had also paid a total of £160 for insurance excess payments in relation to the damaged cars.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said his client was “devastated and disgusted with himself” and that the incident had been “totally out of character”.

He said Coleman had served in the army for 30 years with distinction and had worked with “all creeds and colours”.

Mr Ballentine said his client was at pains to point out that he was not racist.

Up until the date in question the defendant had been sober for five years but after a chance meeting with an old friend had got drunk.

The solicitor claimed one of the complainants would like to meet with the defendant “shake his hand and have a cup of tea” and Coleman would like to reciprocate.

The lawyer said the defendant’s marriage ended as a result of what happened last September and he now lives in a Fold in another part of Ballymena.

“He has lost everything as a result of this – his home, his reputation and his marriage,” said Mr Ballentine.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he had read a Certificate of Service which showed Coleman had reached the level of Lance-Corporal and had left with an “exemplary army record”.

He said there was only one previous court incident, when in 2008 he had received an absolute discharge.

Regarding last September’s rampage, the judge said it was “very serious”.

“To target foreign nationals and to damage their property in such a blatant and wanton way is reprehensible,” added the judge.

He said no doubt alcohol played a part but that was no excuse.

Coleman was ordered to do 100 hours of Community Service.

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