Northern Ireland news

Trio jailed for spate of creeper burglaries

Laganside Court in Belfast

THREE men were jailed today over a spate of creeper burglaries on homes across the greater Belfast area.

Henry Hayes and Kurtis Johnston were each jailed for 14 months for "violating'' homes.

Chef Michael McGann was sentenced to 12 months in custody with a further year on licence. All three pleaded guilty to three burglary offences.

Belfast Crown Court heard that in January last year Hayes (26), of Graymount Drive, Belfast, Johnston (23), of Model Avenue, Carrickfergus, and McGann (26), of Glengormley Park, Newtownabbey, targeted three homes on January 27, 2019.

The first home hit was on the Old Carrick Road in Newtownwabbey when the householder noticed two of the defendants sitting in his BMW car in a bid to steal it.

Two houses on the Jordanstown Road in Newtownabbey were also later burgled and an iPad tablet was stolen. Damage of almost £400 was caused in gaining access to the properties, said a prosecution lawyer.

Judge Neil Rafferty QC heard that it was during the burglary at one of the homes on the Jordanstown Road that the defendants were arrested by police.

Hayes further pleaded guilty to burgling a home at Ashgrove Park in Belfast in October 2018 where he stole a Volkswagen Polo car, cash, two laptops, two mobile phones, a handbag, a purse and a PS4 console.

He received concurrent sentences for aggravated vehicle taking, having no insurance and was banned from driving for four years.

Johnston also pleaded guilty to burgling a house on the Old Cavehill Road in north Belfast in July 2018 when he stole a number of items from the property.

The court heard he was caught when a box containing the owner's medication was found dumped in a bin and Johnston's DNA was found on it.

During the burglary, the female houseowner heard a dressing table drawer being opened, and Johnston telling her: "It's OK. It's only me.''

All three defendants had previous convictions: Hayes had eight convictions for burglary and three for theft; Johnston had five burglaries on his criminal record along with eight for thefts while McGann had three convictions for burglary and ten for theft.

Passing sentence, Judge Rafferty told the trio that this was their "last chance'' to stop their offending.

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