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Man found with stolen jewellery avoids jail

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 16/04/2016

Branding McConway's explanation as particularly far-fetched, Judge Geoffrey Millar handed the 57-year-old a 12-month sentence, suspended for three years
Branding McConway's explanation as particularly far-fetched, Judge Geoffrey Millar handed the 57-year-old a 12-month sentence, suspended for three years

A Dromore man who was caught with jewellery stolen during a "frightening and violent burglary" in Belfast has been handed a suspended sentence.

Gerard Patrick McConway told police he obtained the items -which were stolen during a raid that netted more than £500,000 worth of jewellery - from his cannabis supplier.

Branding McConway's explanation as particularly far-fetched, Judge Geoffrey Millar handed the 57-year-old a 12-month sentence, suspended for three years.

McConway, from Barban Mews in the Co Down town, admitted four charges at Belfast Crown Court arising from the search of his house on May 28, 2014 - namely handling stolen goods, possessing cannabis and two counts of possessing a prohibited weapon.

Crown prosecutor Philip Henry revealed that during the search three items of jewellery were found. These items were a ring valued at £3,000, a watch worth £100 and a £2,400 pair of earrings.

Also located was a Taser and a CS gas cannister, along with three separate small bags of herbal cannibis.

Police were able to link the jewellery to an aggravated burglary that occurred in Belfast 10 days before McConway's home was searched.

When he was asked about the jewellery, McConway told police he got it from a man in Belfast who he bought cannabis from.

Mr Henry also told the court McConway's criminal record included previous offences for both weapons and drugs.

Defence barrister Martin Morgan said McConway was a former doorman who, in his line of work, had had "physical altercations" with people, resulting in him being attacked by paramilitaries.

Having been both beaten and shot, Mr Morgan said McConway "is a man who is essentially terrified".

This, the barrister said, explained the presence of the Taser, found in a bedside cabinet, and the CS spray, located at the top of the stairs.

Passing sentence, Judge Millar said there was no doubt the jewellery found in McConway's home was the proceeds of a "frightening and violent burglary of a mature couple in Belfast".

Describing McConway's explanation of how he obtained the stolen goods as "far-fetched in the extreme", Judge Millar pointed out that the house had been searched by police acting upon information received.

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