Man jailed for burning down LGBTQ+ bar says he did it because he’s ‘a homosexual-sexual’

A man who torched an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Derry, Northern Ireland and told police “I don’t like gays” has been jailed for five years.

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An LGBTQ+ nightclub in Derry was burnt down. (Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

 

Sebastian Prokop was sentenced at Derry Crown Court on Wednesday (24 August) for setting fire to Envy nightclub in January 2020, causing £250,000 in damages. The building was subsequently demolished and the club is now permanently closed.

Prokop, 24, of Crawford Square, Derry, will serve half the sentence in custody and half on licence.

CCTV evidence and a DNA match cinched him a guilty verdict in June this year.

In video footage, Prokop is seen entering and quickly leaving the building, with a fire starting immediately after his departure. He is seen discarding a cap, later found by police who matched it to him through DNA testing.

In contrary to his previous statements, Prokop revealed at sentencing he had planned the attack, stating: “[I] planned it because it’s a homosexual-sexual club and I am a homosexual-sexual person.”

At the sentencing, a prosecution barrister told judge Philip Gilpin that Prokop’s “hostility” to the LGBTQ+ community was a factor in his arson attack.

Derry nightclub, Envy, is permanently closed. (Johan Ordonez/ AFP)

 

“There is a clear inference of hostility towards the patrons who would have used the Envy nightclub. The effect this has had on the community, the complete destruction of the nightclub, the economic value of the property which was destroyed, the evidence is that the fire was deliberately started,” they said, as reported by The Belfast Telegraph.

Judge Giplin stated the attack was premeditated and noted Prokop had told police after his arrest: “I don’t like gay people.”

The judge said this was to be considered an aggravating feature.

Prokop, originally from Poland, may face deportation from Northern Ireland after his prison sentence. The judge said a final decision will be up to Northern Ireland secretary Shailesh Vara.

During the court case, Prokop revealed he had thought of taking a baseball bat to the club before he committed arson, according to the BBC.

Detective inspector Stephanie Finlay from Derry’s Strand Road Criminal Investigation Branch told The Belfast Telegraph: “Prokop’s action were callous and senseless, and caused significant harm. However, we hope the sentence, at least on some level, brings some degree of justice.”

A report by the Police Service of Northern Ireland found there was a sharp increase in the number of homophobic motivated incidents and crimes between 2021 and 2022.

Homophobic crimes increased from 264 to 331. During this time transphobic crimes rose from 34 to 41.

 

 

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