Belfast Telegraph

Drug addict twins who burgled home to feed habits avoid jail

By John Cassidy

Twin brothers who broke into a house to steal tools to sell to feed their drug addictions have been ordered to pay £400 to the victim.

Self-employed bricklayers Dylan and Jaydan Vandermerwe, aged 20 and both of Park Avenue in east Belfast, had pleaded guilty to a single charge of burglary.

In addition to the compensation, the pair were also ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service.

Belfast Crown Court heard the brothers had cased out a house at Knocklofty Park in the Belmont area of east Belfast, believing it to be empty, and broke in at 6.10am on September 16, 2017.

The householder told police he was woken by a noise downstairs and heard voices coming from an extension under construction and went to investigate.

Tools had been taken and a box of tools was also found outside his garage door.

The court heard he told his wife to call the police and then he spotted two males fleeing the property through a downstairs window.

The householder told police that he followed the burglars and one of them told him "back off, back off" in a "threatening manner".

He noted that the pair escaped in a waiting red combi van and police later arrested the twins at home and recovered the stolen tools.

The court heard the brothers had come to Northern Ireland from South Africa at the age of five and now lived with their adopted parents.

Judge Geoffrey Miller said the defendants had "relevant convictions" for burglary which he said was an "aggravating factor".

The brothers had told the Probation Service that they had broken into the house to steal the tools and sell them on to feed their drug habits.

Dylan Vandermerwe has 26 previous convictions including offences of burglary, serious assault and possession of an offensive weapon. At the time of the burglary he was in breach of a suspended sentence for handling stolen goods.

His brother has 38 previous convictions, including three for burglary, and was in breach of a conditional discharge for criminal damage and common assault at the time of the burglary.

The court heard the Probation Service had assessed the twins as having a "high likelihood of reoffending" but they were not considered to pose a serious risk of causing serious harm to the public in the future.

Judge Miller said he hoped that the two weeks the brothers had spent on remand awaiting sentence had served as a "salutary lesson" for them, but added that a further period in custody would "serve little purpose".

He sentenced both defendants to 100 hours' community service and made them the subject of a two-year probation order.

The judge also ordered them to each pay £200 to the victim of the burglary.

Belfast Telegraph

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