Legal claim over riot at St Mary's Kenmure in Bishopbriggs

St Mary's Kenmure The unit currently looks after 24 young people aged between 11 and 16

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The operators of a children's secure unit have lost a £2.6m legal claim over a riot which damaged the facility.

The large-scale disturbance, in March 2008, caused £200,000 of damage to St Mary's Kenmure unit in Bishopbriggs.

The Cora Foundation and the unit's management sued East Dunbartonshire Council for a total of about £2.8m.

Their claim for £2.6m to cover lost revenue has been rejected. A separate claim to cover the cost of the £200,000 damages awaits a further decision.

The Cora Foundation, which runs the unit on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, and the facility's board of managers launched their legal action earlier this year.

'Riotous assembly'

Their legal teams argued that the terms of the Riotous Assemblies (Scotland) Act 1822 dictates that councils need to provide cash to schools, churches, shops or houses that have been damaged in riots.

Lawyers acting for East Dunbartonshire Council argued that the two claims should be thrown out as the Act did not cover children within secure units.

In a written judgement, issued at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Thursday, temporary judge Morag Wise QC said the claim for £2,635,152 loss of revenue was "irrelevant" under the terms of the 1822 Act.

The judge, however, said the £200,000 claim, to cover the cost of damage to the secure unit, would be subject to further legal argument.

The judgement said: "I consider that the pursuer has averred sufficiently in this case to permit enquiry of the precise circumstances and character of the disturbance before deciding whether what occurred was a riotous assembly within the meaning of the act.

"For the reasons given above, I will allow a proof before answer in the Cora Foundation case."

In August 2008, a 16-year-old boy - who could not be named for legal reasons - was jailed for four years at Glasgow Sheriff Court over his role in disturbance.

He had pleaded guilty to damaging property, setting fire to clothing and threatening to kill staff at the school.

Rooms ransacked

The court heard how events began to spiral out of control after several girls ran onto the pitch during a supervised game of boys' football.

Within hours a full-scale disturbance was in progress - with up to 16 youths from the facility smashing windows and ransacking rooms, before setting fire to clothing and waving it about.

When one member of staff went to investigate the fire alarm, he was attacked by the 16-year-old with a knife and sustained a superficial cut to his left ear.

Firefighters and police eventually brought the riot under control the following morning by which time a number of youths had escaped.

Several of them were later caught as they made their way through fields to the Milton area of Glasgow.

St Mary's Kenmure residential unit was reopened on 4 August after a £500,000 revamp.

It currently looks after 24 young people aged between 11 and 16.

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