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Belfast community building burglar Declan McNally jailed

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A Belfast man with an "appalling" record has been jailed for breaking into a city centre building which houses community groups

A Belfast man with an "appalling" record has been jailed for breaking into a city centre building which houses community groups

A Belfast man with an "appalling" record has been jailed for breaking into a city centre building which houses community groups

A Belfast man with an "appalling" record has been jailed for breaking into a city centre building which houses community groups.

Declan McNally was handed a 14-month sentence, divided between seven months in prison and seven months on licence, at Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The 36-year-old, from Ballarat Street, appeared at the remote hearing via a videolink with Maghaberry, and was sentenced by Judge Philip Gilpin.

McNally targeted the commercial premises on the Donegall Road - home to community groups including Sure Start - in the early hours of February 9.

Police attending the scene observed McNally in the building, and shouted at him to stay where he was. However, McNally got into a lift to an upper floor and managed to climb onto the roof.

Police told McNally to come down, but he lost consciousness, collapsed and was caught by an officer before he fell off the roof.

McNally was taken to hospital for treatment before being brought to Musgrave Street police station, where he made no comment during an interview.

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Sentencing McNally, Judge Gilpin said: "You forced entry into these premises and you caused a degree of damage inside. You were seemingly under the influence of some form of drugs or drink to the extend that you appeared to lose consciousness and fell from the roof, where you had the good fortune to be caught by a police officer."

The judge told McNally his actions caused "upset and disruption" to the community groups housed in the building.

Also noted was McNally's criminal record of 139 previous convictions - 58 of which are for burglary - which the judge branded as "quite appalling" as well as "extensive and relevant."

Saying there was "no doubt" the custody threshold had been passed, Judge Gilpin said he was giving credit for McNally's guilty plea and his "positive co-operation" by asking for the case to be dealt with in the midst of the Covid-19 situation.


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