TWO burglars who stole a Mercedes after “trashing” a family home have been jailed.
Josh Lakin (23), of Musgrave Park Court in Belfast, was given a three-year sentence, with 18 months to be spent in prison and the remainder on licence.
Aaron Kingston Trotman (24), from Plantation Road in Lisburn, was given 16 months in jail and 16 on licence.
The defendants, who appeared via videolink from prison for the hearing, both pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, criminal damage and burglary.
Lakin further admitted to failing to report and remain at the scene of an accident and having no insurance.
Trotman also pleaded guilty to assaulting a police sergeant.
The Mercedes they stole was involved in a minor collision with a VW Golf on Pound Street in Larne on October 7, 2019.
Downpatrick Crown Court heard that as Lakin and Trotman fled the scene, the other driver took a picture of the car that was later circulated on social media.
Police identified Lakin as the driver of the Mercedes and a former prison officer identified Trotman as his passenger.
Officers traced the owner of the car to an address in Larne.
As well as stealing the vehicle and trashing rooms in the property, the owners told police the defendants took two gaming consoles, a laptop, an iPad, two driving licences, house keys, £60 in cash and two suitcases.
On the same day as the burglary, police on foot patrol in Castlereagh Street in east Belfast tried to stop the stolen Mercedes, but it made off.
An hour later, Lakin and Trotman were spotted on the Killyleagh Road in Downpatrick. It appeared the car, which was later set ablaze, had broken down.
A man in his 80s living nearby subsequently heard glass smashing and saw a man “hanging through the window” in his living room. After the householder shouted at him, he fled.
A neighbour told police the incident had a “profound effect’’ on the pensioner, who reported having “many sleepless nights and now lives in a residential home.
As the search continued for the burglars, police received reports of two men at the rear of the man’s property pulling suitcases behind them.
After a protracted search operation involving a helicopter and police dog handlers, the defendants were found hiding in bushes around midnight.
The judge said Trotman had 75 previous convictions, including 12 for burglary and others for criminal damage and assaults against the police.
At the time of the latest offences, he was on licence. He subsequently had his release revoked and was returned to custody.
Lakin, Judge Miller noted, had 86 previous convictions, including for burglary, dishonesty and criminal damage.
In November 2019, Lakin received a 14-month determinate custodial sentence for theft, common assault and possessing a bladed weapon.
In a separate case at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, Lakin appeared on a second bill of indictment and pleaded guilty to the theft of a Renault Megane and the attempted theft of a BMW.
Both offences happened on August 23, 2018, in the greater Belfast area.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC sentenced him to nine months in jail but said the punishment would run concurrently to the earlier sentence handed out by Judge Miller.