Belfast Telegraph

Man who burgled Belfast pensioner on drink and drugs will spend 21st birthday in jail

By Ashleigh McDonald

A young man who has no memory of breaking into the home of an 82-year old woman was urged on Thursday to "reflect" on the fact he will be spending his 21st birthday in Hydebank.

Kyle Charles Donaghy, who turns 21 this weekend, was handed an 18-month sentence after he admitted the early morning burglary in south Belfast last July.

Belfast Crown Court heard Donaghy that he has no recollection of the incident due to his drink and drug consumption. However, whilst on remand he had attended counselling to tackle his addiction issues, and is now drugs-free.

Prosecutor Simon Jenkins said that around 12.40am on July 25, the 82-year old occupant of a ground floor flat in the Sloan Court area was woken from her sleep by the sound of her jewellery box being opened.

She saw a male intruder in her bedroom and when she challenged him, he ran from the bedroom and fled the flat by climbing out of a living room window.

Police were contacted, and the elderly occupant told officers several items from her home were missing, including a cigarette pouch, tea towel and a set of keys.

Mr Jenkins said Donaghy was stopped two streets away from the burglary, and when searched some of the stolen items were found in his pocket, they were later returned to the pensioner. Donaghy's fingerprint was also located inside the living room of the flat.

Donaghy initially denied a charge of burglary, but later admitted his guilt.

Defence barrister John Dowey told the court: "In essence, he had a large amount of alcohol and unfortunately a large amount of drugs taken, and really has little or no recollection of the events of the entire evening, and has no recollection of how he came to be in this lady's house."

Pointing out Donaghy fled after he "startled" the elderly occupant, and didn't say or do anything other than take the items and flee the house, Mr Dowey said "the items taken reflect the state he found himself in."

Accepting the incident was unpleasant, the barrister said Donaghy has since expressed shame and disgust at his actions and wishes to apologise to the pensioner.

Mr Dowey also told the court that whilst on remand in Hydebank, Donaghy has undertaken educational courses to improve his chance of finding work when he is released, and has also tested as drugs-free.

Sentencing Donaghy to 18 months - half of which will be in custody with the remaining nine months on licence upon his release - Judge David McFarland told him: "Saturday is your 21st birthday. You are going to have it in Hydebank, and you should reflect on that."

Branding Donaghy's 60-conviction criminal record as "quite formidable for someone of your age", the Belfast Recorder said the break-in would have been a "very frightening experience, particularly for an 82-year old."

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