A Belfast heroin addict who “can’t remember” burgling an apartment while the owner slept on a sofa has been handed an 11-month prison sentence.
Daryl Robert Cameron McCourt (25), of Dublin Road, pleaded guilty to burglary and possessing cannabis and prescription drugs.
Prosecution lawyer Rosemary Walsh told Belfast Crown Court that around 2am on June 21 last year, the owner of an apartment at John Blacking House in north Belfast woke and saw a male standing in the living room “slurring his words and who appeared to be under the influence”.
She said the occupier was “shocked” and confronted the male, who had emptied the contents of a handbag onto a bed. A set of car keys and a purse were later found behind the sofa but £100 in cash was missing along with four strips of diazepam tablets.
The householder alerted police and kept McCourt in his flat until police arrived. A female in the flat also recorded McCourt on her mobile phone and “told him in no uncertain terms to remain in the flat until police arrived”.
McCourt, who was in breach of bail curfew conditions at the time, was arrested and taken to from Musgrave police station for questioning where he was found to be in possession of Maxitram tablets. A small quantity of cannabis was found in his cell.
Miss Walsh told Belfast Recorder Judge Stephen Fowler QC that because of his condition, McCourt had to be taken to hospital for treatment before being returned to police custody.
The prosecutor said that during police interview McCourt accepted being in the flat but denied any intention to steal.
“During the interview, the seized cannabis was show to him. He grabbed the cannabis exhibit, ingested it and said to the police: ‘Where’s your evidence now?”’
McCourt has 61 previous convictions, said Miss Walsh, including offences of dishonesty, three offences of burglary, along with offences of attempted robbery, criminal damage and several assaults.
Defence barrister Declan Quinn said that during police interview, McCourt told police: “Obviously, I have done this but I can’t remember.”
He referred the Belfast Recorder to papers in the case where a police officer noted from the interview with McCourt: “The defendant was not making much sense. He did not know where he was and what he was doing and conveyed to hospital because of his condition”.
He said the court should accept the defendant’s “apology and genuine remorse to the victims”. who he said should be “commended in this case for detaining him”.
The defence barrister said that McCourt is currently serving a 20 month jail term in Magilligan prison after he was sentenced last September for the “pathetic’’ robbery of a south Belfast shop of eight packets of cigarettes and £400 in cash while armed with a “wee broom handle”.
He urged the court to “balance punishment with rehabilitation and justice with mercy”.
Judge Fowler said the aggravating factors were that McCourt had burgled the apartment while it was occupied, his 61 previous convictions and that at the time of the break-in he was in breach of bail.
The Belfast Recorder handed McCourt a 22 month sentence, divided equally between custody and probation, but said it would run concurrently to his sentence for the shop robbery.