Belfast Telegraph

Man with capacity of five-year-old could face jail over Belfast break-in

A burglar with the intellectual capacity of a five-year-old could face imprisonment for raiding a home in Belfast, a judge warned today.

Mitchell Magee, 20, stole electrical items and jewellery during the break-in at the property on Jocelyn Avenue.

The father-of-one, from Willowfield Drive in the city, sobbed as he appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court for a sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors said the victim returned home on November 14 last year to discover the house ransacked and belongings strewn over the floor.

Several hundred pounds worth of possessions, including a laptop computer, drill, camera and tripod were missing.

A piece of jewellery with sentimental value had also been taken. None of the stolen items were recovered.

Defence counsel Danielle McMahon acknowledged: "There's no shying away from it, this offence is horrific."

She told the court Magee has battled with drugs and deteriorating mental health in the past.

At one stage he tried to jump out a window, according to the barrister.

Describing her client as "very vulnerable", she said he has been assessed as having the intellectual ability of someone aged five years and seven months.

The burglary at Jocelyn Avenue occurred during a relapse in efforts to deal with his issues, it was contended.

Ms McMahon insisted that Magee is now getting help with his learning disability and is trying to provide for his daughter.

"For the first time in this  young man's life he has stabilised," she added.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall pointed out that the burglary charge had been contested.

"Personal items were taken which will never be replaced," she said.

"This is immediate custody all day long."

Sentencing was deferred for six months, however, to see if Magee can stay out of trouble.

Judge Bagnall stressed: "He has to come back to this court with no offending and continuing to address the issues."

Any failure could result in him going to prison "for a long time", she warned.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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