Teen who broke into his neighbour's house and stole their car is jailed
A 19-year old with a "formidable" criminal record who broke into a neighbour's house, stole their car and proceeded to drive dangerously around west Belfast has been jailed.
Handing Gerard Mark Clarke a three-and-a-half year sentence and banning him from driving for five years, Judge Gordon Kerr told him: "You have to realise that with your driving history, some day the chances are that you may well have a serious accident and kill somebody, or at least seriously injure them."
Clarke, whose address was given as Hydebank Young Offenders Centre, was informed he will spend half his sentence in custody with the remaining 21 months spent on supervised licence, after he pleaded guilty to five offences.
Crown prosecutor David McClean said that between 10.30am and 11.25am on April 28 last year, a house at Castleton Gardens was broken into. The burglar gained entry by kicking in a wooden panel at the back door of the house, and whilst the occupant was asleep upstairs, a number of items were stolen. They included an iMac worth around £1,000, a Volkswagen Golf and £100 in cash which was in a jar in the kitchen.
Mr McClean said when the scene underwent a forensic examination, Clarke's fingerprints were located on the jar. The prosecutor also revealed at the time of the break-in, Clarke was living in the house opposite.
Later, at around 8.45pm, the Golf was seen by officers driving on the Donegall Road who then gave chase.
On two occasions Clarke, who was driving, rammed a police car.
The Golf finally came to a stop on the Springfield Road, where Clarke abandoned it and ran into a house. He then scaled a fence and when a dog handler was brought to the area, Clarke was apprehended hiding in a shed at a nearby house.
During interview, Clarke - who came before Belfast Crown Court with 44 previous convictions - initially denied the burglary and claimed he bought the Golf from Travellers for £400.
However, he later pleaded guilty to five offences including aggravated vehicle taking causing damage to the vehicle, burglary and driving whilst disqualified.