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Anti-war protesters cleared of break-in charges at Raytheon

Nine female anti-war protesters have been acquitted of breaking into a weapons development office to cause criminal damage.

The Belfast Crown Court jury deliberated for just over an hour yesterday before returning unanimous not guilty verdicts for the nine women.

They are Londonderry women Julia Torrojo (35) from Glenside Gardens; Roisin Barton (61) from Brandywell Avenue; Goretti Horgan (54) from Westland Avenue; Elizabeth Doherty (52) from the Little Diamond; Diana King (65) from Hatmore Park; Helen Reynolds (61) from Fahan Street, and Roisin Bryce (42) from Ardnomoyle Park, along with Sharron Meenan (35) from Dameragh, Fahan, and Jackie McKenna (52) from Sliabhan, Killarogue.

The jury convicted Diana King's husband James King (67) of criminal damage and possessing a can of spray paint with intent to cause criminal damage after he daubed anti-Raytheon slogans on the wall.

The jury also convicted Kieran Gallagher (44), from Dunservick Park, of impersonating a police officer.

Earlier in the trial, three other men, Rory McDermott (26) from Leafair Park, who faced counts of assaulting, obstructing and resisting police, John McMonagle (65) from Amelia Court, who denied a single charge of obstructing a constable, and Bernard McFadden (56) from the Little Diamond, who faced a charge of burglary with intent to cause damage, were all found not guilty.

Following the convictions |yesterday, Judge Tom Burgess handed down a 12-month conditional discharge to Gallagher and fined King £75 with an £80 compensation order for the cleaning of the wall he sprayed.

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Since the trial began on May 26, the jury heard how the women entered the former Raytheon Systems Ltd plant on the Buncrana Road in Derry on January 12 last year in order to damage the main computer.

When later arrested and questioned, they all told police they believed Raytheon were supplying missile software to the Israeli defence forces who were bombing the Gaza Strip and they were acting in defence of the people of Palestine.

Speaking outside court yesterday, a spokesperson on behalf of the ‘Raytheon Nine' said: “The verdict represents an acceptance that what we did was not a crime but an attempt to prevent crime.”

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