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Three-year term for burglar with an 'appalling' record

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Belfast man with an "appalling" criminal record has been handed a three-year sentence for breaking into a house and stealing items including three NI Hospice charity boxes.

Belfast Crown Court heard the occupant - a woman in her 60s - has been left with her "confidence and peace of mind severely dented" by the break-in last July.

Mark Alexander Fitzpatrick, from Ramoan Drive, admitted breaking into the woman's west Belfast home and stealing items including her wedding and engagement rings and electrical equipment.

The 33-year-old, who appeared at Belfast Crown Court with 147 previous convictions - 52 of which are for burglary - was told by Her Honour Judge McCaffrey that he will spend half the sentence in prison, with the remaining 18 months on licence.

Judge McCaffrey told Fitzpatrick his guilty plea to the burglary charge had spared the occupant the ordeal of coming to court to give evidence.

Before jailing Fitzpatrick, the judge heard that on July 19 last year the woman woke to discover her house had been broken into. She soon realised several items had been stolen.

Fitzpatrick's barrister spoke of his client's difficult childhood, as well as drugs misuse issues which stem back to his teenage years.

He told the court that Fitzpatrick had no memory of breaking into the woman's house, due to his level of intoxication.

The barrister said that Fitzpatrick was shocked and ashamed by his behaviour and has expressed remorse.

Before he was led away, the judge told Fitzpatrick: "Your record for burglary is, quite simply, appalling."

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