Two Belfast men involved in the theft and torching of a Ford Transit van were both sentenced to 15 months today.
Anthony Thomas Brady (30), from Lisvarna Heights and Christopher Thomas McDade (35), from Monagh Parade both appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a video-link with Maghaberry.
The sentences were divided equally between prison and supervised licence by Judge Richard Greene QC.
Brady and McDade admitted charges arising from the theft from a courier who parked his Ford Transit in the Cuper Street Lower area of the city.
The driver was in the middle of delivering a parcel on the afternoon October 25, 2020 — but had left the keys in the ignition and the van's door open.
As he made the delivery, he observed a man getting into the van and driving off.
This caused the courier to chase the van onto the Falls Road and when he couldn't stop the vehicle, he called the police.
When the van was stolen, there were 118 parcels in the vehicle that still had to be delivered, amounting to around £3,000 in value.
The Ford Transit was driven to the top of the Ballygomartin Road where it was set on fire.
Police were alerted to the vehicle on fire, and footage obtained from a CCTV camera, located at a nearby property, captured a second vehicle arriving at the burn site and leaving a short time later.
This second vehicle was stopped by police later that afternoon being driven by McDade and with Brady in the passenger's seat.
Both men were arrested, and during interview McDade denied knowing anything about the theft of the van.
When he was questioned, Brady also denied involvement in the offences — but was identified on the CCTV footage.
The pair — who Judge Richard Greene QC revealed both have “significant and relevant” criminal records — later admitted offences of aggravated vehicle taking, arson and the theft of parcels.
Branding the incident as “opportunistic”, the Judge said both men had a history of hijacking vehicles and seizing changes to commit crime whilst having no regard for the consequences.
Branding his criminal record as “depressing reading”, Judge Greene told Brady “a stage has got to be reached where you really have to catch yourself on and find something else to do productively with your life.”
The Judge then addressed McDade and spoke of his “hard-wired” criminal lifestyle.
As he imposed the jail terms, Judge Greene told the pair: “It is depressing to think that a man cannot absent-mindedly leave a vehicle unattended, and a short time later it is destroyed by fire — leaving him and his job in jeopardy, and for you just one more notch on your terrible criminal records.”