Jail for burglars who targeted four Belfast homes in single night
Two west Belfast men who admitted their involvement in a spate of burglaries on homes in the south of the city have each been jailed for 16 months.
Paul Francis Scott pleaded guilty to a total of five charges as a result of the break-ins last year.
Scott (34) of Glenbawn Park, Dunmurry, admitted to two counts of burglary with intent to steal, assault, burglary and attempted theft, and attempted burglary with intent to steal.
Co-accused Joseph Paul Scott of Glenbawn Square, Dunmurry, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal and assaulting the male occupant of a flat.
The 39-year-old failed to appear for the sentencing hearing, with defence counsel Taylor Campbell telling Judge Geoffrey Miller QC: "I think he has taken cold feet.
"I don't think he will leave the jurisdiction, let alone Belfast, and I expect him to be picked up within the week."
The court issued an immediate bench warrant for his arrest.
Prosecuting counsel Philip Henry said all of the offences took place in the early hours of January 28, 2016 on four separate properties within the same locality of south Belfast.
The court heard one house was targeted in Camden Street and a further three homes were entered in Malone Avenue.
Police had been alerted by the occupiers and witnesses that up to four men were involved in the incidents which happened between 2.30 and 3.30am.
During one of the burglaries, Mr Henry said a female, who was home alone at the time, was "grabbed by the scuff of the neck" and thrown into a bedroom.
In another burglary, one of the four men who entered the house was spotted by the householder armed with a knife which he had taken from the kitchen.
At a flat in Malone Avenue, a man who was trying to complete his tax returns was assaulted by intruders.
Four men were later arrested by police after their descriptions were circulated. Two of those arrested were never charged as there was no forensic evidence to link them to the burglaries, the court was told.
Mr Henry said Paul Scott was forensically linked to two of the properties by footwear marks and also by DNA found on a discarded cigarette.
The court heard he had previous convictions for burglary with intent to steal and grievous bodily harm.
Defence counsel Martin Morgan said that while he accepted Paul Scott was involved in the burglaries, he stressed to the court that he "played no part" in the assaults on the victims.
"He didn't play as significant a role as others played in these four incidents. He should not be punished for the reprehensible actions of the other persons," he added.
Taylor Campbell, defence counsel for Joseph Scott, said the 39-year-old didn't remember the incidents as he suffered from epilepsy and a "blackout period of eight hours".
He added that although Scott had 52 previous convictions, the majority were committed between the ages of 18 and 22.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC sentenced both defendants to 16 months in custody followed by a further 16 months on supervised licence after their release from prison.