Arson attack from Derry gays sentenced to five years in prison

A huge crowd of people in a dimly lit nightclub.

An LGBTQ+ nightclub in Derry burned down. (Camilo Friedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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

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

Prokop, 24, of Crawford Square, Derry, will serve Half of the penalty is imprisonment and the other half is licensing.

CCTV evidence and a DNA match ruled his conviction in June of this year.

In a video, Prokop is seen quickly entering and leaving the building, with a fire raging immediately upon leaving. He is seen disposing of a hat, which was later found by the police and which they matched to him through a DNA test.

Contrary to his previous statements, Prokop revealed upon sentencing that he planned the attack, saying: “[I] I planned it because it is a gay club and I am a gay person.”

In sentencing, the prosecution attorney for Judge Philip Gilpin said Prokop’s “hostility” to the LGBTQ+ community was a factor in his premeditated attack.

LGBTQ+ nightclub with a guy in the middle.
Envy’s nightclub is permanently closed. (Johan Ordonez/AFP)

“There is a clear inference of hostility towards customers who would have used the Envy nightclub. They said the impact on the community, the complete destruction of the nightclub, the economic value of the property destroyed, and the evidence that the fire was set on purpose.” Belfast Telegraph.

Judge Giblin stated that the attack was premeditated, and noted that Prokop told police after his arrest: “I don’t like gays.”

The judge said this would be considered an aggravating feature.

Prokop, who is of Polish descent, may face deportation from Northern Ireland after being sentenced to prison. The judge said the final decision rested with Northern Ireland’s secretary, Shailesh Vara.

During the case, Prokop revealed that he was considering taking a baseball bat to the club before he committed arson, according to BBC.

Detective Inspector Stephanie Finley of the Dairy Strand Road branch of criminal investigations said: Belfast Telegraph: “Prokop’s work was cruel and meaningless, and it caused great harm. However, we hope that the sentence will achieve, at least on some level, some degree of justice.”

report from Police Service in Northern Ireland It found that 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 increased from 34 to 41.

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