Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Drug-crazed man jailed for rampage at special school

One of the buses damaged during the rampage at Knockevin School in Downpatrick

A petty criminal who was so intoxicated by drink and drugs that he has no memory of wrecking a special needs school has been jailed for 15 months.

James Rogers downed 30 diazepam tablets and three large bottles of WKD before his rampage at Knockevin school in Downpatrick.

He vandalised six school buses and caused extensive damage to the building itself during the wrecking spree last September.

He also stole items including cash, a mobile phone, a TV remote control and a fire extinguisher.

Yesterday Downpatrick Crown Court was told that the 24-year-old, from Drumaness Walk in the town, has no memory of the incident on September 23 last year.

Rogers had already pleaded guilty to burglary, theft and seven counts of criminal damage.

The court heard Rogers was found in a classroom by a care- taker. He had rubber gloves, a screwdriver and a backpack.

The damage to the buses, which included smashed windows, was estimated at more than £4,000, while vandalism to the building itself, including broken doors and a TV screen ripped off a wall, cost more than £3,000.

The court heard Rogers told police during interviews that he had "absolutely no memory" of the incident. He admitted consuming around 30 diazepam tablets and three bottles of WKD.

When told he had stolen a fire extinguisher, Rogers replied: "What would I want with a fire extinguisher?"

Prosecuting lawyer Lauren Cheshire said that Rogers' guilty plea was diminished because he had been "caught red-handed".

She said there were several aggravating factors, including the target being a special needs school.

Defence barrister Paul McAlinden said his client had expressed remorse for his actions.

"He said he felt really shocked and ashamed when informed of it," Mr McAlinden told the court.

Judge David Smyth said it was "quite possible" Rogers didn't remember the incident.

But he said: "The damage, and the impact of the damage, was much greater than the value of the items you took."

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