Judge warns courts will protect elderly after jailing man for 18 months for breaking into pensioners' homes in Belfast

Laganside Court in Belfast

A JUDGE yesterday warned that the courts will protect elderly people from burglars after he jailed a man for 18 months for breaking into the south Belfast homes of pensioners.

Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said elderly people had every right to feel safe in their own homes at night.

He made his remarks as he sentenced Damien Joseph Power, (34) of Glenalina Park in west Belfast, after he admitted two counts of burglary.

Prosecution lawyer Simon Jenkins told Belfast Crown Court that an elderly couple were woken from their sleep by the burglar alarm at their Cleaver Avenue home in the Malone area of the city around 2.20am on September 26 2017.

They noticed their front living room window was open and a packet of tobacco was missing.

Around 3am at a house in nearby Cleaver Park, an 88 year-old man went to investigate a noise downstairs but was confronted on the landing by two males, one of whom told him: "Don't worry. We won't harm you'', before taking his mobile phone off him before he could ring police.

Mr Jenkins said the two males then "ransacked a number of bedrooms'' while the pensioner went downstairs and phoned police.

Minutes later, police arrived and arrested Power in the living room. A search of Power revealed he stolen from the elderly man a pair of cufflinks, £50 in cash and a quantity of Tramadol tablets along with the stolen tobacco.

Mr Jenkins confirmed to the court that Power's accomplice had never been traced.

A defence barrister said father-of-two Power "accepts full culpability and the seriousness of these offences is not lost on him.''

Judge McFarland said Power had a relevant criminal record, with 23 previous convictions for burglary, along with other offences of robbery, theft and handling stolen goods.

The Belfast Recorder also said Power was on licence at the time after he was sentenced in February 2015 to two years and eight months for another domestic burglary.

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