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Burglar who targeted Coleraine Elvis imitator spared jail

By Nevin Farrell

A man who carried out a burglary in which an Elvis impersonator had a special poem and treasured pictures of his late wife stolen has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Maurice Ayres (21), whose address was given as the Simon Community hostel at Coleraine's Lodge Road, broke into the home of 54-year-old Andy Rodgers in April this year. Afterwards, Mr Rodgers spoke of his distress over the raid, but also of his relief that the stolen items were recovered within days.

He said the precious family snaps and a poem written by his wife Diane before she died of cancer were of great sentimental value to him and his family.

Mr Rodgers' house, on Willowfield Avenue in Coleraine, was targeted in the early hours of April 23, just two days before Andy, daughter Jenna (20) and son Shane (18) were due to commemorate what would have been Diane's 48th birthday.

With the stress of the break-in still hanging over them, the family struggled to mark the sombre day because the items were missing.

Andy, who is well-known in the north coast area as an Elvis impersonator, said that the stolen items were returned just a few days later, on Tuesday, April 26.

Ayres pleaded guilty to a burglary in which he took a TV, school bag, the contents of a black handbag and a purse, a car key and £25, as well as two other charges of theft.

On the same date he also stole a purse and a bag, and a £100 bicycle, whose owner has MS and who relied on it for transport. It was not recovered.

Coleraine Magistrates Court was told that CCTV footage showed the defendant carrying a TV and two bags into the Simon Community. The items were later found in his room.

Ayres told police he was at a party in Portstewart where he had taken "numerous drugs and alcohol" and had little recollection of events. He was handed a nine-month sentence, suspended for three years, and ordered to pay compensation for the remaining missing items.

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