Belfast Telegraph

Two jailed for crime spree linked to ram raid by glass and blood samples

By Ashleigh McDonald

Two men have been jailed for their roles in a crime spree which included burglaries, thefts and a ram raid.

The pair - a 26-year-old and a youth - were told their actions in the early hours of September 26, 2015 put people at risk.

Patrick O'Rawe, from Albert Street in Belfast, was handed a 13-and-a-half-month sentence. His co-accused was given three years.

Belfast Crown Court heard the duo were part of a four-man gang. Events unfolded when two cars were stolen during a break-in at a house in Holywood, Co Down - although there was no evidence the pair were involved.

The two stolen cars - a Ford Puma and a Ford Focus - were involved a short time later in a ram raid on a clothes shop in the Lisburn Road area of Belfast.

The Puma rammed the shop window and four men were seen running from the premises carrying armfuls of clothing.

The gang left the Puma and fled in the stolen Focus which was driven by O'Rawe.

Not long after the ram raid, the Focus collided with another vehicle on the Cliftonville Road, in north Belfast which ended up on its roof. A prosecutor told the court that the driver of the second vehicle sustained serious injuries in the early morning crash.

The four people in the stolen vehicle ran from the car.

The youth was detained after being found sitting on the kerb between two parked cars, O'Rawe was arrested after his blood was recovered from the airbag of the Focus.

The youth was linked to the break-in as a fragment of glass on his clothing matched the glass from the clothes shop window.

O'Rawe - who had 84 previous convictions - admitted being the driver of the Ford Focus and admitted offences including aggravated vehicle taking, causing damage to another vehicle, and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

The youth, who has amassed 39 convictions, admitted being a passenger in both stolen cars, and of breaking into the clothes shop.

Sean O'Hare, the barrister representing O'Rawe, said his client "expresses to the court the remorse he feels for his behaviour" and has accepted his offending was serious.

Mr O'Hare told the court O'Rawe's "litany of offending" was set against a background of drug consumption and mental health issues.

He said that while in custody, O'Rawe had used his time constructively and was participating in several courses.

The youth's defence barrister, Taylor Campbell, said that when the offences were committed, his client was under the influence of drugs, and this drugs misuse "has been part of his life for the last few years."

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