Disabled girl’s testimony saves Belfast burglar dad from longer jail term
A burglar described by a judge as an "incorrigible offender" has been jailed.
Judge Paul Ramsey QC told James Edward Bonner the evidence of his profoundly disabled daughter had saved him "from what would have been a more lengthy sentence".
Bonner, from Glengoland Gardens in Dunmurry, pleaded guilty to a £25,000 burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, causing damage to a Toyota Yaris and handling stolen goods, all on September 12, 2017.
He was jailed for a total of seven and a half months.
The Belfast Crown Court judge also ordered the defendant to undergo alcohol and drug treatment programmes when he is released on a similar period of supervised licence.
Judge Ramsey said the 45-year-old had a "horrific record" of 230 previous convictions dating back to the mid 1980s and "seems to have been an incorrigible offender over the decades".
He added, however: (It is) also right to say there has been a drop in his offending, but no doubt this series of offences was a return to his bad old ways".
Prosecution lawyer Robin Steer said Bonner was linked to the £25,000 burglary, in which more than 300 items of clothing were taken from a men's outfitters on Belfast's Lisburn Road, by a partial DNA profile taken from a hammer left behind in the shop.
The following day police also recovered the damaged stolen Toyota Yaris in north Belfast.
Mr Steer said that inside was a tie from the burglary and a five-kilo bag of rice taken during a break-in at a cafe next door to the men's outfitters.
Officers also recovered a balaclava on which the defendant's DNA was found.
Defence barrister Barry Gibson, having called Bonner's profoundly disabled daughter to describe how he helps her in her daily life, said his client's offending began after he fell in "with a crowd of antisocial boys".
He said Bonner deserved credit for his guilty pleas, which were both helpful and welcome.
But Judge Ramsey said that despite the pleas, the defendant's case was not exceptional.
He accepted Bonner was a "loving and caring father" but said he could not overlook his record, nor lack of remorse.