Man who broke into New Lodge community centre jailed

Peter Joseph McCormack received a 27-month sentence
Peter Joseph McCormack received a 27-month sentence

A man who was traced to a break-in at a north Belfast community centre via fingerprints and blood has been handed a 27-month prison sentence.

Peter Joseph McCormack, who has 76 previous convictions, was told he will spend half his sentence in prison with the remaining half on supervised licence upon his release.

The 24-year old, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, admitted burgling the Ashton Centre in the New Lodge area of Belfast last summer, with intent to steal.

Prosecutor Simon Jenkins said the caretaker of the commercial premises on Churchill Street raised the alarm on the morning of July 14 last year. A second floor window - which is believed to have been the point of entry - was smashed during the break-in.

Belfast Crown Court heard that while three doors were damaged, an office was entered and drawers were opened, nothing was actually stolen.

When forensics attended the scene, a fingerprint mark and blood were located on the interior of the smashed window.

Mr Jenkins said: “Both the fingerprint and the blood swab were processed through the police database and found to be those of Peter Joseph McCormack.”

Police made arrangements for McCormack to attend interview on two separate occasions, and when he failed to turn up twice, “extensive efforts” were made to locate him.

He was eventually arrested in February of this year. He initially denied the burglary charge, and stated that as his doctor’s surgery was located on the first floor of the Ashton Centre, he may have touched the window whilst looking out the window during a visit to the doctors.

He was unable, however, to account for the blood found at the scene.

McCormack, who represented himself during sentencing, told Judge Kerr that he “turned to drugs and went off the rails” following a family tragedy in 2008.

Revealing he was “under the influence of drugs” when he broke into the Ashton Centre, McCormack said that when he gets out of jail he wants to “settle down and get myself a job”.

Judge Kerr told McCormack that whilst burglary was a serious offence, he was being given credit for his guilty plea - despite that fact that he was “caught red-handed” due to his fingerprint and blood being found at the scene.