Northern Ireland news

Woman died same night house targeted by creeper burglar

A 26-year old man who carried out a spate of burglaries, including the home of a north Belfast woman who passed away on the night he targeted her property, has been jailed.

Marc Samuel Spencer was handed a three-year sentence and was banned from driving for two and a half years after he admitted the crime spree last February.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC told Spencer that while he accepted there was no confrontation with the occupant, his actions and the invasion of privacy compounded the pain of an already grieving family.

Spencer - who at the time of his offending last February was residing at Centenary House on Belfast's Victoria Street - said he had no recollection of the spate of break-ins as he was under the influence of drugs.

He admitted 16 offences including burglary, attempted burglary, three counts of aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving. He will serve half his sentence in prison, with the remaining half of his sentence on licence.

Before passing his sentence, Judge Fowler QC was told that Spencer's crime spree involved creeper-style burglaries and attempted burglaries where he stole car keys from properties then took the owner's vehicles.

He broke into a house at Lismoyne Park on February 11 last year.

After stealing the occupant's handbag, car keys and Hyundai car, he failed to stop for police on the Ballysillan Road at 2.50am. When police called to the family home to alert them to the car theft, it emerged that the female occupant had passed away in a downstairs toilet.

A post mortem result found the cause of death "was not related to the defendant ... it was entirely natural under the circumstances."

The occupant of a second property at Lismoyne Park was in bed at 2am and heard a loud noise. She didn't investigate, but later that morning discovered a broken window pane.

The Crown believe Spencer tried to break into this house, before moving into the house opposite where he stole the Hyundai car.

Other burglaries and attempted burglaries occurred at Holwood, Co Down and Glengormley, Co Antrim

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