Man jailed for break-ins at GAA club and nursing home

editorial image

A 25-year-old Belfast man has been handed a two-and-a-half year sentence after he admitted breaking into two premises in the west of the city.

Belfast Crown Court heard that Christopher Riley and a co-accused, who was not before the court, targeted St John’s GAA club on the Whiterock Road and Glenalina Nursing Home on the Springfield Road in the early hours of November 17, 2015.

During the break-in at the nursing home, both a resident and a member of staff were pushed out of the way by the duo as they fled the premises.

After admitting his involvement Riley, from Rosemary House on the Falls Road, was handed the sentence by Judge Patricia Smyth, who told him he would spend half the term in prison with the remainder on licence when he is released from custody.

The court heard that at the time of the break-ins, Riley’s motivation for offending was linked to his drink and drug addiction – but he is now seeking counselling for these issues.

A prosecutor said that Riley and his co-accused gained entry to the GAA club via the the roof of the changing room. Once inside, the pair stole a “significant amount” of alcohol.

They also targeted the nursing home, but fled when a resident disturbed them.

Police were called and two men matching the description of the intruders were arrested in the area.

Riley initially gave false details to a constable, but later made full admissions.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey said drink and drugs were “inextricably linked” to Riley’s offending, adding he has been in custody since November 2015.

The barrister also revealed that Riley will be apply for a transfer to a Scottish prison to be closer to his family as he is “isolated” in Northern Ireland.

During sentencing, Judge Smyth branded his offending as “very serious” – especially given the vulnerability of the residents in the nursing home.

The judge also accepted that during his time in custody, Riley is “making progress within the prison” to tackle his addictions.