16 October 2003 Edition
Army criminal on 16-month tour in North
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has demanded that a British soldier - convicted last week in Coventry, England, for attempting to steal a motorbike after putting a replica gun to the owner's head - be immediately removed from the Six Counties.
Anthony Craven, 17, a soldier with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was given 100 hours community service after pleading guilty on 29 September to possessing an imitation firearm with intent, the day before he departed for a 16-month tour of duty in the Six Counties.
Coventry Crown Court was told how his terrified victim thought Craven was going to fire the gun during his ordeal on 26 June this year.
Sentencing Craven, Judge Cole said: "People who commit this type of offence inevitably go to prison for a long time but I have to take into account that you are only 17 years of age."
Doherty told An Phoblacht it was confirmed in court that the British Army would not be taking action against their criminal member and that he would travel to the Six Counties as planned.
"The British Army have made some sort of arrangement for Craven to carry out his community service order while stationed in Ireland," he said. "This decision again shows the contempt with which they hold Ireland and Irish people. We already know they are quite happy to have convicted murderers in their ranks and the decision to place a violent criminal onto our streets will come as no surprise. I am publicly calling on Paul Murphy to make a statement on this matter and for the British military to remove this criminal from our country."