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Ballymena's bothersome preacherman is sentenced

By Nevin Farrell

A man who pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour by loudly shouting religious phrases in Ballymena town centre has been jailed for two months.

But District Judge Peter King said that because of time spent on remand, Joey McAuley (48), of no fixed abode, had already served his sentence.

After the sentencing, McAuley thanked the judge by saying: "Bless you."

McAuley had previously made remarks about Jesus during appearances at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

And he had said he did not require a lawyer, as "Jesus Christ" was his legal representative.

Yesterday 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 that McAuley had "started to kick off" at Ballymena bandstand and was "scaring" people with his scripture-based ranting.

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

McAuley's offending happened hours after he was spoken to by police when graffiti saying 'Bless this place Lord' appeared at a former church in Ballymena town centre that 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 remanded in custody, McAuley had told the judge that would give him more time to "preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ" in jail.

At that court McAuley insisted he had not done anything wrong, claiming there was "no justice", before further telling the judge: "I forgive you."

At the same court, on December 15, when asked if he obtained legal representation, McAuley said: "Aye, Jesus Christ."

And at a previous court appearance, on December 8, eyewitnesses said McAuley "preached" on the steps outside Ballymena courthouse for 10 minutes.

When he entered the courtroom that day he clapped his hands loudly and shouted "Hallelujah", along with other religious phrases.

McAuley continued to shout in the packed courtroom and yelled: "No justice in here, brothers and sisters."

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