Norfolk family petrol bombed caravan and attacked sisters with brooms

Felix Rooney was sentenced to 14 months in prison and banned from driving for 25 months. Picture: NO

Felix Rooney was sentenced to 14 months in prison and banned from driving for 25 months. Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Two sisters were badly injured when a feud between two families erupted into violence and petrol bombing on a caravan site.

Men armed with brooms attacked residents of the site as petrol-filled bottles were thrown at homes in Minsterworth, near Gloucester.

Great Yarmouth man Felix Rooney, of Gapton Hall Road, knocked a woman to the ground with a broom, before swinging it at her and her sister during the incident. 

John Rooney

John Rooney. - Credit: Gloucestershire Police

The 34-year-old appeared alongside brother John Rooney, 23, who has since also moved to Norfolk, and sister Barbara Rooney, 30, previously of Gapton Hall Road but now living in The Ride, Plymouth, with the trio admitting public disorder during an appearance at Gloucester Crown Court on Thursday, August 26. 

A fourth member of the family, Kathleen Rooney, is also facing charges arising from the incident, which took place on February 20, 2018, but her whereabouts are unknown.

The trio had initially faced a more serious charge of affray, using or threatening unlawful violence.

They denied that charge but offered guilty pleas to a less serious offence of public disorder, which were accepted by the prosecution.

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Susan Cavender, prosecuting, said the incident arose from a troubled background between the Rooneys and another family and, on February 19, 2018, there were three separate incidents of violence on the site involving three sisters from another family.

The sisters were living together in a caravan with various children, the prosecutor said.

She added: "They were receiving threatening phone calls from the Rooneys because of the incidents the day before.

"At 9pm, the sisters heard footsteps outside and then realised petrol bombs were being thrown at the caravan.

"Four bottles were later found at the scene by the police. Officers noticed a strong smell of petrol from them.

"Barbara Rooney was making warrior noises as she threw bottles.

"The victims heard shouts of 'you are dead tonight'.

"Felix used a broom to knock one of the sisters to the ground and she had to roll under a nearby car to protect herself.

"Barbara shouted to her brothers to leave, but before doing so Felix again swung a broom and brought it down on another sister's arm."

The victim who rolled under a car suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung, while another sister suffered a deep cut to the chin and an injury to her arm.

The prosecutor told the court that the decision to accept the defendants' pleas to such relatively minor charges had only been taken after careful consideration by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the victims themselves.

"It is not a decision which has been taken lightly," she said.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC said the charges represented an 'extremely light resolution' of the case.

He said he had read a victim impact statement from one of the sisters in which the "sense of terror that she felt" was clear.

The court heard all three of the Rooneys who appeared in court have criminal records, with Felix making 24 court appearances for 63 offences including robbery, battery and public disorder.

John Rooney, whose address was given in court as Laira Bridge, Pymouth, had 10 previous convictions for 23 offences, including criminal damage and assault, while Barbara had 12 convictions for 27 offences, which included shoplifting, assault and battery.

Nick Worsley, representing Felix, said his client has good employment laying driveways.

Jessica Heggie, mitigating for John, said at the time of the incident, he had just suffered a bereavement and was not managing his emotions or mental health well.

He said: "He was not coping and was using alcohol, but hasn't touched it since then.

"He has recently moved to Norfolk and has three children."

For Barbara Rooney, Saftar Falam said she had been suffering with mental health problems including depression and schizophrenia and is on regular medication.

Judge Lawrie sentenced all three siblings to 12 month community orders with requirements to do 200 hours of unpaid work each.

The two brothers were ordered to pay £500 costs each, with Barbara ordered to pay £200.