Eight-year term for man with 220 convictions

Laganside Court Building
Laganside Court Building

A “habitual robber and hijacker” with over 220 criminal convictions was yesterday handed an eight-year sentence for an offence in which two females were threatened with a meat cleaver.

Mark Gerard Paul, 31, from Oakley Street in Belfast, will serve three-and-a-half years in custody with the remaining four-and-a-half years of his sentence spent on supervised licence upon his release from prison.

Paul – described in Belfast Crown Court as a paranoid schizophrenic – pleaded guilty to a string of offences which were committed over a two-week period last year.

The prosecutor told Judge Corinne Philpott QC that Paul had 225 previous criminal convictions, describing him as “a man who is a habitual robber and hijacker”.

A defence barrister told the court that his client had significant psychiatric problems and was a paranoid schizophrenic.

Passing the global sentence, Judge Philpott told Paul he had an “appalling criminal record” and said his mental health difficulties were made worse by the fact he didn’t properly take his prescribed medication and also took other non-prescribed drugs and “copious amounts of alcohol”.