Man’s ‘bless you’ to judge who ‘jailed’ him

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A man who pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour when he reportedly scared passers-by by loudly shouting ‘religious’ phrases in Ballymena town centre has been ‘jailed’ for two months.

Joey McAuley (48), of no fixed abode in the town, had been previously remanded and the sentence will now be dealt with as ‘time served’.

He had previously also made a number of remarks about Jesus during previous court appearances at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

On Thursday he appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison, and after being sentenced he thanked District Judge Peter King by saying: “Bless you”.

The defendant had originally appeared in court in December after a difficulty over a bail address relating to the disorderly behaviour charge and because of that, and in the absence of declining a lawyer to make submissions on his behalf, he was remanded in custody.

Judge King said on Thursday that because of time served on remand McAuley has already done his time in jail.

McAuley had previously said he did not want a lawyer saying “Jesus Christ” was his legal representative and at Thursday’s court he confirmed he was still not legally represented but that he understood his case was going to be dealt with.

A prosecutor said that at 3.13pm on Monday November 28 last year a member of the public reported to police there was a male - McAuley - at Ballymena bandstand who had “started to kick-off” and was shouting and “scaring” members of the public.

The prosecutor said McAuley was shouting “religious” remarks “at the top of his voice” causing pedestrians to give him a “wide berth”.

Noting the defendant had a record and jailing him for two months, Judge King said he had already spent “significant time” in custody and said it had not been the original intention of the court that the defendant was in Maghaberry.

After being sentenced, McAuley told the judge on Thursday he wished to thank him for dealing with the matter and added: “Bless you”.

McAuley’s offending on November 28 happened hours after he was spoken to by police when graffiti saying ‘Bless this place Lord’ appeared at a former Presbyterian church in Ballymena town centre which is currently being demolished.

The building was bought from the Presbyterian Church by a private owner and at the time the police confirmed the people in charge of the site did not wish to press charges.

McAuley’s court appearances have been punctuated with religious references.

At the end of December when he was further further remanded in custody McAuley had told the court that would give him more time to “preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ” in jail.