Fine of £80 for man who shouted and swore in church

The man behind a campaign to have the case against convicted gunman Sam Barlow reviewed has been fined for drunkenly disturbing church services.

William McCover, 23, of Veester Hill in Sandwick, shouted and swore during a service at St Margaret’s Church in Lerwick.

He previously admitted attending the Roman Catholic service on 9th February last year after he had been drinking throughout the night.

McCover waited 10 minutes into the service before launching a verbal tirade against the congregation’s beliefs.

McCover wandered into the centre of the aisle and shouted: “What you’re singing is f****** lies”. Three members of the congregation escorted him out of the church.

He then headed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and behaved aggressively towards congregation members. A Sunday School was in progress in the room next door.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie told Lerwick Sheriff Court today that children were left “distressed and frightened” by McCover’s behaviour.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said McCover’s life had not being going well and he had started drinking to excess. He had acted in a way which he was not proud of.

“He has said to me he wouldn’t want someone to belittle his beliefs,” Mr Allan said.

He added that McCover would have liked to make a formal apology to the churches, and had been in contact with restorative justice.

“Steps are under way for apologies to be made formal.”

Mr Allan said McCover, to some extent, felt “slightly aggrieved” that he had shouldered most of the blame compared with others he was with. But he added: “He has to accept responsibility for it.”

The defence agent said McCover had decided to tackle his drinking after committing the offence. He had contemplated going to the local drugs and alcohol service, but in the end decided to deal with it himself.

He added that McCover, a college student working on an HNC music course, was now “sober and clean”.

“It’s something he very much regrets – something that happened a year ago which was a relatively long time ago in the context  of his still young life,” Mr Allan said.

Sentence on McCover was previously deferred for him to prove he could be of good behaviour. Honorary sheriff Eric Peterson fined him £80, reduced from £120 to reflect the plea.

Earlier this year McCover started an on-line petition to have the case against Sam Barlow reviewed, after the teenager was sentenced to three years after pointing an air rifle and threatening to fire at armed police officers.


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