Burglary accused has 85 previous convictions

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A 25-years-old man has appeared in court accused of the burglary of a ‘drinking house.’

Stephen Harkin, from Carnhill, is charged with burglary of the house in George’s Street on December 5, last year.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard Harkin was released on police bail in relation to the alleged offence.

However, he was arrested last week for breaching the conditions of bail by consuming alcohol.

It is alleged police were called to the address in George’s Street in December by a neighbour who heard breaking glass.

Officers arrived at the scene and a window of the property had been broken.

Glass was ‘scattered’ on the ground outside and a large piece of masonry was found nearby.

Police had to enter the property through the broken window and it is alleged Harkin was found inside.

During police interview, the 25-year-old claimed he was so intoxicated he didn’t know what he was doing.

The court was told the resident of the property recently passed away as a result of an overdose.

Opposing bail, an investigating officer said Harkin has a ‘significant’ criminal record, with 85 previous convictions. He added Harkin has issues with alcohol and substance abuse and these ‘contribute to his offending. He commits burglaries to fund his drug use.’

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott told the court the house in George’s Street ‘appears to have been a drinking house where people used to go.’

He said Harkin claims he was going to the house ‘to sleep rather than anything else.’

Mr MacDermott accepted his client has a ‘very substantial drink problem’ but is not accused of committing any further offences whilst on bail.

District Judge Barney McElholm said ‘one could argue remanding him in custody for his own safety. He is a chronic alcoholic and he is slowly poisoning his own system.’

The judge said if Harkin continues to drink ‘he will kill himself and I am not colluding in that.’

Harkin was released on his own bail of £500 and banned from consuming alcohol. He is due back in court on March 23.