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Drug addict burglar given 14 months in prison for stealing 94-year-old woman's handbag

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A man from the Shankill area of Belfast who broke into the home of a 94-year-old woman has been handed a 14-month sentence, half of it on licence

A man from the Shankill area of Belfast who broke into the home of a 94-year-old woman has been handed a 14-month sentence, half of it on licence

A man from the Shankill area of Belfast who broke into the home of a 94-year-old woman has been handed a 14-month sentence, half of it on licence

A man from the Shankill area of Belfast who broke into the home of a 94-year-old woman has been handed a 14-month sentence, half of it on licence.

Christopher Henry William Tinsley was under the influence of drugs when he entered the property and stole the pensioner's handbag, Belfast Crown Court heard.

Tinsley's barrister Declan Quinn issued an apology to the woman and her family on behalf of his client, and said there was no indication or evidence that Tinsley (27), from Carlow Street, was aware the house was occupied by an elderly resident.

Prosecutor Simon Jenkins said the property at Cranmore Park was broken into either on the night of May 7, 2018 or up to 5am the following morning. Entry was gained after the living room window was smashed, and the woman's handbag was taken.

Mr Jenkins said that around 4am on May 8 the resident of a house at Deramore Drive was woken by a loud bang. When he checked his property he discovered a rear patio door had been smashed.

At around 5am a police constable who was in the area noticed a man riding a bicycle who appeared to be going from driveway to driveway slowly.

He approached Tinsley, who sped from the scene on the bike and shouted: 'I'm not f*****g stopping, you black c***'. However, he was apprehended by the officer a short time later and the pensioner's stolen handbag was found in his possession.

Following his arrest Tinsley's clothes were forensically examined and glass samples taken from his items contained the same glass samples from the damaged window at the pensioner's home, and also the damaged back patio door.

Mr Jenkins said that when interviewed Tinsley denied he was involved and said as he didn't get his medication that day, he took a psychotic episode.

He also claimed in his interview that he found the bike against a wall with the handbag already on the handlebars, and he used it to try and get home.

Tinsley later admitted breaking into the property at Cranmore Park, and causing criminal damage to a patio door at Deramore Drive.

Mr Jenkins concluded the Crown's case by saying Tinsley had a relevant and lengthy criminal record, and that he was on bail at the time.

Defence barrister Mr Quinn spoke of Tinsley's long-standing and significant mental health issues which include a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

Mr Quinn also spoke of his client's drug use, and said Tinsley's criminal record reflected the "chaotic lifestyle of someone with drugs difficulties".

Revealing these drugs were Xanax and Lyrica which Mr Quinn said were "plaguing this city and beyond", the barrister said there were now signs that Tinsley was "attempting to get off drugs".

Judge Stephen Fowler said that after listening to submissions - and from reading a report from the arresting officer - he accepted Tinsley was under the influence of drugs when he committed the offences and did not deliberately target the home of a pensioner.

Tinsley was handed a 14-month sentence, which was divided between seven months in custody and seven months on licence.

Belfast Telegraph