Student attacked during break-in

editorial image

A father of three who broke into a house in the university area of Belfast and proceeded to attack an occupant who challenged him was yesterday handed a two and a half year sentence.

Ciaran McMurray, 29, from Rugby Avenue in Belfast, and co-accused Kieron Matthew Sean Brown, 19, from Woodvale Street in the city, targeted the house at University Street in the early hours of September 17 last year.

Belfast Crown Court heard that when a student living in the property challenged the intruders, Brown left the house but McMurray stayed and attacked him.

McMurray told the student he would come back with hurley sticks and burn the property down.

When arrested, McMurray told police he thought the property was empty. He subsequently pleaded guilty to burglary and theft, assaulting the male occupant and making threats to damage property. McMurray also admitted causing £120 worth of criminal damage to a window of the property.

Co-accused Brown admitted to the burglary and theft charge. He told police “I’m sorry if I entered the building. I don’t remember ... I was so drunk.”

A lawyer for McMurray told the court there had been “a number of traumatic incidents” in McMurray’s past, which had contributed to “struggles with substances and alcohol”. The lawyer also said McMurray had expressed an “intention to do better”.

Brown’s barrister pointed out that his client “couldn’t remember but doesn’t dispute” the incident and said that his role was limited.

Judge David McFarland placed Brown on two years probation and ordered that he serve 100 hours community service.

The judge handed McMurray a two and a half year sentence, half of which will be spent in custody with the remaining 15 months spent on supervised licence. He also activated a suspended sentence that McMurray breached, and ordered he spend an additional six months in custody.