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Belfast man 'heard voices coming from satellite dish', court told

By Alan Erwin

Published 23/08/2016

One of the stealing sprees was carried out while he was waiting sentence for the earlier thefts.
One of the stealing sprees was carried out while he was waiting sentence for the earlier thefts.

A Belfast man who climbed onto a homeowner's roof to damage her satellite dish thought he heard voices coming from it, a court heard today.

Tiernan Donnelly also wrecked a garden bench belonging to the woman during an apparently drug-fuelled intrusion onto her property last month.

The 19-year-old defendant, of Kinnaird Street in the city, was given 12 months probation after pleading guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told a resident in the Albert Street area alerted police after she saw a man standing on her roof talking to himself on July 27.

Donnelly jumped to the ground as officers approached, making a full admission following his arrest.

A prosecution lawyer revealed that he had caused £250 worth of damage. Emphasising the unusual circumstances, defence counsel Declan Quinn said his client appeared to have scaled up onto the roof and targeted the satellite dish for no apparent reason.

"Albeit the observations of police were that he was talking to himself," the barrister acknowledged.

"He made a case at interview that he thought he heard voices coming from the Sky dish."

Mr Quinn accepted his client faced a difficulty due to his "voluntary consumption of drugs before the incident".

Donnelly committed the criminal damage within weeks of being released from the Young Offenders' Centre, the court heard.

But urging the judge not to return the defendant to jail, Mr Quinn contended: "There's a great risk of the revolving prison door and him becoming a product of the system."

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter confirmed he had decided against custody based on a "surprisingly positive" report from the Probation Service.

Imposing the 12-month order, he warned: "If you don't comply with all that's asked of you, you will be dealt with by another way, which I think will mean prison."

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