‘Disgraceful’ abuse directed at worshippers

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A young Sandwick man perpetrated a “disgraceful episode” when he disrupted two church services dur­ing acts of worship.

William McCover, 22, of Veester Hill shouted and swore at congre­gation members in St Margaret’s Church in Lerwick’s St Olaf Street on Sunday 9th February.

He later caused a similar disturbance at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Prince Alfred Street.

McCover burst out and told worshippers: “What you’re singing is f****** lies.”

At Lerwick Sheriff Court yester­day McCover was ordered to stay out of trouble by sheriff Philip Mann, who warned him: “You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself”.

McCover’s co-accused, 16-year-old Christian Duncan of the town’s Millgaet previously had his sen­tence deferred for good behaviour.

But yesterday procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said McCover  was the “main actor” in what was “truly disgusting conduct”.

“It involved him going into two different churches, on both oc­casions during acts of worship, and shouting and swearing things like ‘what you’re singing is f****** lies.’

“No decent member of the public should have to contend with those sort of circumstances, but partic­ularly so in a church during an act of worship.”

The fiscal said McCover may have thought his antics were funny, or related genuinely to what he believed. But he said McCover had not been heavily under the influence of alcohol.

“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of excessive alcohol consumption, although there was some, but on both occasions he had to be removed by members of the congregation.”

Mr MacKenzie told told the court “decent” members of the public had to make the “unenviable” decision, when confronted by McCover, to put themselves in harm’s way and “get involved”.

“He provides no explanation for his behaviour and it may be not unreasonable to suggest it is incumbent on him to do so today.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said first offender McCover had carried out the offence after falling into “a bad time”.

He said McCover’s drinking had fallen out of control and added: “His behaviour did as well.”

Mr Allan highlighted notes from his meeting with McCover who had said he deserved everything that was coming to him as a result of the offence.

He added McCover had subse­quently stopped drinking, was due to start college on a part-time basis and is working in the fishing industry.

“He said he’d very much like to make a formal apology for his actions. He accepts he was out of line.

“He went on to say he wouldn’t want someone to belittle his beliefs, and he has no right to do that to anyone else.”

Sheriff Mann told McCover: “This is an absolutely disgraceful episode, and you should be thor­oughly ashamed of yourself, no matter what your religion is.

“I will give you the opportunity to prove to the court you can be of good behaviour. If you have been of good behaviour I will probably be able to deal with this by way of a fine.”

He ordained McCover to appear again on 4th March.