A man who police caught red-handed stealing a PlayStation4 from a house in Limavady in the middle of the night initially claimed he thought he was in the home of his brother who wouldn’t have minded if he borrowed the gadget.
Patrick James McDonald (28), of Sperrin Road in Limavady, was detected at College Mews in Limavady in March last year.
He appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday, via video link from Maghaberry Prison, and admitted several charges including burglary; dangerous driving and driving whilst unfit.
A prosecutor said police received a report from a member of the public that their house alarm had sounded and when they looked out the window they saw a male walking away.
A short time later police received a further report of suspicious activity around the back of another house.
At 2.25am police encountered a vehicle and when they went to speak to the driver he sped off causing sparks to come from the vehicle as it went over speed bumps. The vehicle eventually crashed into a fence.
Later, police saw a man reaching for a TV inside an address at College Mews in Limavady.
The householders were wakened by police and were unaware of the presence of a burglar.
The occupants believed they may have left their back door unlocked, the court was told.
When interviewed, McDonald said after drinking he realised he had no tobacco and went round to his brother’s to get some and thought he was in the home of his family member.
McDonald said he then decided to take a lend of the PlayStation 4 and that his brother wouldn’t mind and at no time did he think he was in someone else’s house.
McDonald had spent several months in prison on remand on the charges and after getting out he
burgled a house at Mullagh Place in Limavady in October last year and took items including clothing and beer and also attempted to steal a mountain bike from a nearby property.
The court heard householders disturbed McDonald who had entered a shed and removed a bike and the defendant said he was looking for a place to put a dog.
A woman took a photo of McDonald before he escaped and it emerged he had been wearing clothing which had been taken from next door.
Police were unable to locate the defendant but arrested him when they knew he was attending Coleraine Court.
They found him sleeping and was so intoxicated he was unfit to be interviewed until the next morning.
Defence barrister Francis Rafferty said McDonald spent the best part of a year in custody and had been out of jail for three weeks when he committed further offences last October.
The lawyer said McDonald was sorry for the upheaval he caused to his victims.
Jailing McDonald for a year; along with a one year driving ban and fines of £200, District Judge Liam McNally praised the “quick-thinking” of the occupant of a house who took the defendant’s photo.