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Man who burgled St John's GAA Club club twice avoids prison

A man who burgled his local GAA club twice within 10 days has walked free from court with a suspended sentence after a judge ruled that it would be "counter-productive" to jail him.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC told west Belfast man William Whelan that although she considered him the "prime mover" in the break-in, she was taking the "exceptional course" because reports indicated he was attempting to change.

The Belfast Crown Court judge said she would give him "one more opportunity" and would suspend his 21-month sentence for three years for the burglary and theft at St John's GAA Club on Whiterock Road on July 23, 2011.

Whelan (21), from Westrock Park, was one of three accused who admitted breaking into the club. A second man, 26-year-old Patrick Michael Joseph Parker, of Westrock Gardens, was given the maximum of 240 hours community service.

Sentence on a third accused, Robert Clarke (19), of Springhill Gardens, was adjourned when he failed to appear.

Three TVs, alcohol and over £1,200 in cash was stolen.

Whelan had been arrested three days earlier for another break-in at the club.

Belfast Telegraph