Belfast Telegraph

Pair jailed for Belfast creeper burglary as owners slept

By Ashleigh McDonald

Two men were jailed yesterday on charges arising from a creeper burglary carried out in Belfast last summer.

Daryl Robert Cameron McCourt (23) and 22-year-old co-accused Callum Pugsley were both handed a two-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told the pair they will serve half their sentences in prison, with the remaining 12 months on licence when they are released from custody.

A prosecution barrister said a property on Ravenhill Street was broken into during the early hours of July 10, 2017, and items including car keys, bank cards and an Amazon Echo Dot were stolen.

Also taken was a Volvo X60 which contained a laptop.

The occupiers - who were sleeping during the burglary - discovered their home had been broken into around 6.30am. Around three hours later, the stolen Volvo was involved in a collision in Damascus Street.

McCourt, from London Road in Belfast, and Pugsley, from Blackwood Street, were identified as being in the Volvo, both from their descriptions and from CCTV.

The prosecutor said that when Pugsley was arrested later that day, some of the stolen items were found in his home.

He told officers McCourt had picked him up in the Volvo that morning, that they drove around for a while and McCourt was behind the wheel when it crashed.

McCourt - who sold the stolen laptop and Echo Dot in a store in the centre of Belfast - was arrested in the early hours of the following day.

He initially denied selling the items, but was shown CCTV footage from the store. His fingerprints were also found on a TV stand in the house he broke into.

While both men later admitted a charge of aggravated vehicle taking causing damage, McCourt pleaded guilty to a further four offences, including burglary, while Pugsley admitted an additional two offences, including receiving stolen goods.

Judge Miller was told that both men appeared before the court with extensive criminal records.

A barrister representing McCourt spoke of his client's heroin addiction - but said he was seeking treatment and now "abstinent". Branding McCourt's childhood as "unsettling and troubled", the barrister spoke of paramilitary death threats and substance misuse.

Regarding last July's incident, the barrister said that while McCourt "does not seek to excuse his behaviour", it was carried out "whilst in the grip of addiction".

Pointing out the close proximity to McCourt's home and the house he broke into, the barrister added: "This was opportunistic. It was committed on his way home."

Pugsley's barrister also spoke of a "very unsettling childhood" which included "losing association" with his parents, a chaotic lifestyle peppered by periods of homelessness and "drifting into pro-criminal gangs".

Revealing Pugsley's heroin addiction was a catalyst for his offending, the barrister said his client had "weaned himself" off the drug, and was now hoping for a more positive future and "attempting to get help".

Passing sentence, Judge Miller said there was "no question" that the custody threshold had been passed.

He also recommended both McCourt and Pugsley attend any programmes aimed at tackling addiction as part of their year on licence.

Belfast Telegraph

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