Northern Ireland news

Court hears pensioner woke to be told by burglar 'we're breaking into your house'

Laganside Court in Belfast

A BELFAST man who has been breaking into houses "from a very young age" has been jailed for a year for burgling a pensioner's home.

The 80-year old victim was too afraid to call police after Mark Mackin and his sister Sheree Rose Mackin targeted his home, at Glenrosa Street in Tigers Bay, in July 2018.

After the pensioner woke to find the strangers in his bedroom, he asked what they were doing and was told by Mark Mackin "we're breaking into your house."

Mackin, from Fianna House on Queen's Parade, in the New Lodge, appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with Maghaberry.

Sentencing Mackin for six offences - including burgling the pensioner's home - Judge Stephen Fowler QC told the 35-year old that his comment to the vulnerable resident "suggests an arrogance and indifference" both to his offending and the impact it has on the elderly man.

Mackin's sister Sheree was sentenced by the same judge earlier this month and was sentenced to 21-and-a-half months with half to be served behind bars.

The siblings targeted a total of four properties in Belfast and Limavady on July 30, 2018.

The pair broke into a house on Belfast's Hogarth Street at around 6.45am on where they stole items including a Playstation, a laptop and a drill.

The occupant was woken by noises downstairs, and when he looked out his window he saw two people fleeing. He found a Post Office card on a bedroom floor, and when police later contacted the card's owner, it emerged it belonged to an elderly neighbour.

When police went to the pensioner's Glenrosa Street home, he told officers he had been burgled around 6am, but was too afraid to contact police.

He was distressed when talking to police, and said he had woken to discover two people in his bedroom. When he asked the intruders what they were doing, the male replied "we're breaking into your house."

The pair ran from his room and stole £1,023, a watch and a Post Office card.

The Mackins were captured on CCTV at 7.20am at an apartment building in Belfast pushing a shopping trolley containing items such as the stolen drill.

Later that day, the pair and second man left Belfast and travelled to Limavady in an orange van.

At 5pm, a woman heard a noise in the bedroom of her Seacoast Road home in Limavady. She opened the door, saw a man and woman and ran from her house to a neighbour's, where they the intruders come onto the road and get into an orange van. When she returned home, she discovered an Amazon Firestick and medication had been taken.

When the owner of a second property in Seacoast Road returned home, she found her bedroom window had been opened and there were marks around her utility window.

As the van left the scene, police were alerted and the vehicle was stopped on the outskirts of Limavady. All three occupants were arrested, and when he was searched Mackin was in possession of small amount of cannabis and cocaine.

During interview, he admitted the drugs were his but denied the burglary charges. He subsequently pleaded guilty and asked to be sentenced during the Covid-19 crisis - a move which Judge Fowler said showed remorse and a willingness to co-operate with the authorities.

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