Watch: Footage released of dramatic police chase after prolific burglar jailed
A one-time prolific burglar who used high-end motors belonging to his victims to ferry their stolen goods home has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Belfast Crown Court heard that 32-year-old Samuel Crawford often stole the cars to transport stolen goods back to his own home.
However, defence QC Charles MacCreanor said the Crawford was a different man who had cleaned up his act.
In a PSNI statement welcoming Crawford's sentencing, police also revealed he was stopped in a Mercedes car in 2015 after a 40 minute pursuit by specially trained officers.
Crawford, from Glasgow Street, in north Belfast, with 80 previous convictions dating back to 2002, pleaded guilty to 15 charges ranging from burglary, attempted burglary, theft, going equipped and taking and driving away. He also asked for 33 other offences "to be taken into account".
Ordering that he serve two years in custody, followed by two years on supervised licenced parole, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he was giving him credit for his guilty pleas.
Judge Miller said the court today was dealing with a "very different person" than the one who could have been described as a "career burglar" with a "plethora of offending" for dishonesty and violence, but whose offending appeared to have "petered out".
Crawford, it was accepted, was now showing "the green shoots of hope and recovery" and had "latterly cleaned up his act", and that "this defendant has no matters outstanding" and was saying, "look I have to clear the slate here".
The court heard that Crawford admitted five different types of crime but that his focus was burglary.
His usual method was to target several homes in a particular area on a single night.
While he lived in the north of the city he often targeted more affluent areas including the Fortwilliam, Glengormley, Netownabbery, and Malliusk along with the Ormeau Road and east Belfast.
In defence the court also heard that he had acted alone as a burglar, and was not part of a gang offering violence to their victims or those trying to stop him.
The court was told the cars he took were meant only for transport and not for selling on, or later destroyed by fire.
Mr MacCreanor said Crawford's motivation was to pay off the debts he had accumulated through his drug addiction and that in many cases he has little or no recollection of the homes he either targeted or burgled.
However, he was now drug free and working, an "all in an attempt to turn himself around, to clear the slate".
Belfast Telegraph Digital