Jail for thug who burgled blind OAP as he slept
A Belfast man who broke into the home of a deaf and blind 91-year-old and robbed the pensioner as he slept has been jailed for 18 months.
Jailing Gerard Patrick Skelly, Judge Alistair Devlin told the 38-year-old he was a "determined and dogged serial offender" whose actions left the vulnerable and disabled victim "absolutely terrified".
Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard Skelly, from Norglen Drive, had 210 previous offences, prompting Judge Devlin to brand his criminal record "appalling".
Prior to sentencing, the judge was told by Crown barrister Rosemary Walsh that Skelly admitted five charges arising from two burglaries in Ballynahinch which occurred in the early hours of July 23 last year.
At around 1.30am a man living in the Ashburn area of the Co Down town was watching TV when he heard his dog barking. He went outside to investigate, and when he returned to his property he noticed a bicycle had been taken from his garage.
Around an hour-and-a-half later the Oakland Grove home of the disabled pensioner was broken into.
Ms Walsh said the elderly resident woke up after feeling his bed vibrate and he sensed there was someone in his room. He tried to find a talking watch that he kept on a bedside cabinet, which was missing.
The pensioner got out of bed and kicked a box on his bedroom floor that hadn't been there when he went to bed. He then contacted police and informed them he thought he'd been burgled. Several items were stolen by Skelly, including three talking watches, a wallet, jewellery and three bottles of whiskey, as well as credit cards and cash.
At around 7.40am that day officers approached a Ford Mondeo that was stationary but with its engine running close to Skelly's west Belfast home.
Skelly was in the driver's seat and appeared to be drunk, and when police approached the car Skelly was "not responsive" to their questions.
The car was searched and several items stolen from the two houses hours before where found in the vehicle, including the bicycle.
Ms Walsh said that during the search police also recovered a red-handled knife, and were subjected to verbal abuse by Skelly.
He also spat at officers and refused to give a blood sample for analysis.
During police interviews Skelly denied the break-ins and continued to verbally abuse officers.
At one stage he told police: "I would love to help you out, but I just don't know what you're talking about."
Skelly was forensically linked to one of the burglaries via his footwear, and he subsequently admitted five charges including burglary and possessing a knife in a public place.
As swell as the 18-month jail sentence, Skelly was banned from the road for five years, as he had 34 previous convictions for driving with no insurance.