Member of gang that carried out terrifying Irish border raids is jailed
A father-of-eight who was part of a three man gang which carried out a spate of cross-border burglaries on the same day has been handed a 30-month jail sentence.
Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast yesterday, heard that during the break-ins, a couple had the door of their bedroom kicked in and were threatened by a man brandishing a golf club.
John Joseph Myles Connors - a member of the travelling community whose current address is HMP Magilligan - was part of the gang and admitted his involvement on the grounds of joint enterprise.
Over a 24-hour period on December 20, 2013, Connors and two other men targeted Ghan House, a hotel in Carlingford, as well as a house in Newry and two properties in Keady.
All but one of the premises were occupied, and £5,000 worth of jewellery was stolen from one of the homes.
Judge Sandra Crawford handed Connors a 30-month sentence, telling the 35-year-old he would spend half of it in prison, with the remaining 15 months spent on supervised licence upon his release.
The court heard that Ghan House was the first place which was targeted in the spree.
At around 12.35am, a husband and wife were woken from their sleep by their bedroom door being kicked in.
One of the intruders had a golf club, and the incident resulted in an ambulance being called for the woman.
The three intruders were caught on CCTV leaving the hotel in a white Audi which was hijacked prior to the break-in. It was accepted that Connors was not the man brandishing the golf club.
At around midday the gang targeted a house on Newry's Carrickrovaddy Road.
The daughter of the owner came out of her bedroom to be confronted by three men.
When she screamed for her father, the trio fled in the same white Audi.
Several hours later, the gang broke into a house on the Upper Darkley Road in Keady, when a male occupant came out of the shower and was approached by intruders. On this occasion, they left empty-handed.
A second home on the Darkley Road was also broken into on the same day. This house was ransacked, jewellery was taken and the burglars left in a white Audi.
Connors - who came before the court with 96 previous convictions - was arrested in England in September 2015 after being on the run from the PSNI since the spate of break-ins in December 2013.
During yesterday's sentencing, Judge Crawford revealed that during his time in prison, Connors had attended several parenting programmes as he wants to have a positive future role in his children's upbringing.
This prompted the judge to tell the father of eight: "I hope you recognise the impact your offending has had on your children."
The judge also branded the break-ins as "appalling and utterly reprehensible", and spoke of the trauma experienced by "each of the victims of your crime".