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Jail for man who ransacked home of 89-year-old woman as she slept in her bed

Newry courthouse police

A man who broke into and ransacked the home of an 89-year-old lady while she was in bed was handed a 33 month sentence today (Tuesday).

Newry Crown Court heard that the incident at the pensioner’s Kilkeel home in January 2015 where he stole £80 and items of jewellery was part of a burglary spree by John Connors (40) and another man designed to fund his drug addictions.

Jailing the father-of-nine and ordering him to spend half his sentence in jail and half on licence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC told Connors it had been an “appalling series of offences”.

At an earlier hearing Connors, from Moatview in Kilmead, a small village in Kildare, entered guilty pleas to a total of nine offences including five counts of burglary and single counts of theft, possessing a weapon, criminal damage and assault with intent to resist arrest, all committed between January 22-24, 2015.

In an agreed statement of the facts, prosecuting counsel Fiona O’Kane described how the 89-year-old lady was in bed when two men with their goods, pulled up, broke in through a rear bedroom window and ransacked her home.

They left with with a quantity of jewellery and a brown handbag which contained £80 while among the other offences, Connors admitted to stealing a caravan from outside a house in Rostrevor and a gaming console and controllers from a Kilkeel Youth Club.

In one of the other incidents at a house in Ballynahinch where the pair tried to steal a caravan, the home owner confronted the burglars and used his car to try to block their escape but they rammed it out of the way using the silver jeep they were driving.

Connors and his accomplice were arrested, while still towing the caravan they had managed to steal, on the Kilbroney Road in Rostrevor and when Connors was searched, cops uncovered a small black jewellery box taken from the pensioner’s home as well as a baton.

Both Connors and his accomplice had to be “forcibly removed” from the jeep and refused to answer police questions during interviews.

The delay in bringing the case to court was due to Connors breaching bail conditions by fleeing across the border but after he was jailed for other offences committed in the Republic, he was transferred north again.

Defence counsel Conor Byrne told the court Connors had equated the offence involving the elderly lady to that of his own mother, adding that he had expressed “shame and genuine remorse” for that crime

Jailing Connors and ordering the baton to be destroyed, Judge Kerr said the thief was still assessed as posing a “high risk of reoffending” but was not considered “dangerous”.

He added that while imposing consecutive sentences may have been an option, he considered the burglary spree to have been committed within a single “criminal enterprise.”

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