Heroin addict’s burglary sentence bid thrown out


A heroin addict who burgled homes for jewellery to fund his drug habit has failed in a bid to have his six-year sentence reduced.

David Taylor targeted temporarily empty houses in a week-long blitz across Ballymena, Co Antrim in June 2013.

The 34-year-old, who lived in the town at the time, pleaded guilty to three of eight burglary counts, and a further charge of possessing cannabis found on him when arrested.

His lawyers mounted an appeal against the three-year jail term, followed by a further three on licence, imposed for the break-ins and other outstanding suspended sentences.

Taylor was identified after selling some of the stolen belongings at a pawn shop.

He had committed his first burglaries as a teenager, developing a criminal record connected to his drug taking, the Court of Appeal heard.

Previous offences involved raids on commercial premises and private dwellings.

He later became a regular heroin user, committing crime to fund his drug lifestyle.

Rejecting claims that the six-year term was manifestly excessive, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “A deterrent sentence was required in this case.”

It was also claimed there had been a disparity in the treatment of Taylor and a co-accused who received a suspended 18-month sentence.

But Sir Declan identified marked differences between them, describing how the other man was a hopeless alcoholic who “became entangled in this operation by the offer of alcohol”.

With differences in the pair’s criminal records, the judge added: “The appellant was sentenced on the basis that he was a professional burglar.

“He had been responsible for the targeting of the properties.”

Although Sir Declan allowed Taylor’s appeal against the cannabis conviction, because it was wrongly added to the indictment, he refused to reduce the overall sentence.

He confirmed: “There is nothing to suggest that anything had gone wrong which would require the court to step in.”