A MAN who broke into an elderly woman’s house in Enniskillen while she was there speaking to a local priest, then used her bank card in two local shops has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Michael Murray (31) of Curran Road, Larne appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Wednesday for sentencing on burglary, assault on police, and two counts of fraud by false representation.
On October 13, 2017 police received a 999 call from a woman on the Drumcoo Road in Enniskillen who said her house had been burgled.
The woman had been talking to the local priest when both of them saw the burglar through a glass door as he fled her house.
Police then met Murray, who matched the description they had been given, on the Cornagrade Road and he appeared to be thumbing a lift.
When Murray was arrested he became agitated, shouting “what have I done.” He attempted to remove the police handcuffs, and shouted “I’ll f**king kill you” and spat at an officer. He also called the officer “a f**king rat” and other insults, and headbutted the ground.
Murray was subsequently identified on CCTV using the woman’s bank card at Rooney’s Shop on the Cornagrade Road, and at Lakeside Service Station on Queen Street. He had used the card to buy cigarettes and alcohol. The money was returned to the woman by her bank.
Defence barrister Steffan Rafferty said the “elderly woman and the elderly clerical witness” had been spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court by Murray’s guilty plea to the charges. He added both witnesses had only seen Murray through frosted glass as he left the house.
Mr Rafferty said Murray, who was sentenced to probation for a dishonesty charge in Newtownards in September, had a previous criminal record but was not in breach of a suspended sentence. The barrister asked the court “put him to the test” once again by not giving a custodial sentence, and to “put him to the test.”
District Judge Michael Ranaghan said the custody threshold had been met in the case, stating entering someone’s home uninvited was very unpleasant.
He sentenced Murray to a total of five months in prison, but said he was “prepared to take the exceptional step” to suspended the sentence for two-and-a-half years as he had difficulties in his life and there was a gap in his offending record.
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