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Prolific burglar who targeted elderly Bangor woman jailed

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Main Street, Bangor

Main Street, Bangor

Main Street, Bangor

A "ham-fisted" burglar whose targets included a 76-year old woman and the offices of the Ulster Orchestra was handed a three-year sentence on Thursday.

Anthony McKee - who appeared at a remote hearing of Belfast Crown Court via a videolink with Magilligan - was told he will serve half his sentence in jail, followed by 18 months on licence.

The 44-year old, of no fixed abode, was arraigned and sentenced on the same day for six offences he committed between January and July last year.

In the first incident on January 17, McKee stole a pensioner's shopping bag which contained her walking aid. The 76-year old was in a coffee shop on Bangor's Main Street, and when she returned to her table after paying her bill, she realised her bag was missing.

CCTV picked up McKee walking on Main Street with the stolen bag, and he abandoned the items, which were returned to the pensioner.

Later that afternoon, McKee broke into a house on nearby Southwell Road, where he stole four a laptop, two iPads, jewellery and other items.

McKee broke in via an upstairs window, every room in the house was entered and the stolen goods amounted to £2,000. He was captured again on CCTV following the burglary carrying a backpack and two shopping bags full of stolen goods.

On May 15, he broke onto a restaurant on Belfast's Bridge Street. The property was locked and secured and McKee gained entry via the roof and stole £300 from the tills.

The next premises targeted by McKee was a office on Belfast's Arthur Street on July 2. Caught again on CCTV, McKee left his jacket containing his identity in the premises from where he stole four laptops and caused £1,600's worth of damage.

Seven days later he broke into the office of a non-profit organisation William Street in Belfast. After the premises was locked by staff for the night, he remained in the building overnight and was caught on CCTV causing damage in various rooms.

He was disturbed by cleaners at 8am the following morning, and ran out of the building. His fingerprints were found on a wine bottle left on the premises.

Later that morning, McKee pressed the intercom of the offices of the Ulster Orchestra on Belfast's Gloucester Street. He said he was a postman and tried to gain access, but staff refused to let him in.

He then forced his way into the foyer by breaking a door lock. Police were called and he was arrested at the scene.

When interviewed about the offences, he declined to answer police questions. However, he was arraigned on six charges on Thursday and after entering guilty pleas to all six, he was sentenced by Judge Stephen Fowler.

The Judge spoke of McKee's "significant and relevant" record, which includes 27 previous burglaries. Also noted were McKee's substance abuse and mental health issues.

Defence barrister Conn O'Neill said that whilst it was accepted his client had an undesirable criminal record, he has "aspirations of living a normal life."

Describing McKee's crime spree as "ham-fisted", Judge Fowler said: "What he lacks in sophistication, he certainly makes up for in his enthusiasm for this type of behaviour."

The Judge also said the theft of the pensioner's bag in Bangor would have been a distressing experience for her.

Giving discount for McKee's guilty plea in the current climate, which Judge Fowler said showed remorse and a willingness to co-operate with the authorites, he imposed the three-year sentence.

Belfast Telegraph