Northern Ireland news

Convicted murderer and rapist jailed for breaking into Belfast student house

Convicted murderer and rapist Stephen John Boyle admitted a burgling a student house in Stranmillis, south Belfast

A CONVICTED murderer and rapist has been jailed for six months for breaking into a student house in south Belfast.

Stephen John Boyle (50), of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to a single charge of burgling a dwelling earlier this year, stealing alcohol and a set of headphones.

Prosecution lawyer Kate McKay said a resident in Sandymount Street in the Stranmillis area returned home on April 9 at about 5pm to find Boyle inside his home.

The court heard Boyle then fled down an alleyway in the direction of Stranmillis Road pursued by the student occupant.

"While following him, the student heard a wheelie bin lid close. He looked inside and saw the headphones.''

Ms McKay said the resident continued to follow Boyle and contacted police, who caught up with him at Queen's University PE centre. When questioned about his movements, Boyle told police: "I don't remember what I was doing.''

The prosecution lawyer told Judge Geoffrey Miller that at the time of the burglary, Boyle was a life-sentence prisoner who had been released on licence.

Boyle was jailed for 13 years for the murder of his flatmate in Dublin in 1996 and was later transferred to Magheraberry prison to serve out his sentence.

He was said to have carried out the murder of Gerard Hagan and badly injured two other associates in "an uncontrolled rage" fuelled by alcohol.

Ms McKay said that although Boyle was assessed as a "high risk of re-offending'', the Probation Service did not consider him to be a danger to the public.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said Boyle was released from prison on licence in 2010 and in 2015 was sentenced again to eight months behind bars for a burglary offence.

"There is a ring of patheticness about him when he is on alcohol. There was no confrontation in the house and as you can see, he is a large man he and could be quite intimidating if he wanted to," he said.

"He has his difficulties and he has crosses to bear.''

He added that Boyle was addressing his alcohol issues and "there are shoots of hope'' for the future.

However, rejecting a suggestion by Boyle through his defence barrister for a suspended sentence, Judge Miller said "That's not going to happen,'' and imposed a six-month jail term.

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