‘Drunken idiots causing havoc’

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A judge has said that two men who broke into houses in county Derry were “two drunken idiots causing havoc”.

Recorder of Derry Judge Philip Babington made the comment as 35-year-old Damien Palmer and 30-year-old Christopher Mallett appeared at the local crown court.

Palmer, of Asylum Road, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal, possession of a class B drug and driving with no insurance.

Mallett, whose address was given on court papers as Gorteen Crescent, Limavady, pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and theft of a child’s mountain bike.

The charges relate to incidents in the Castledawson area on August 26, last year.

The court heard that a homeowner was woken by the sound of someone in their garage. When police checked the surrounding area they found a black Vauxhall car which had crashed and a mobile phone which was left at the scene. Palmer was discovered in a lane way a short distance away and the phone belonged to him.

Mallett was observed riding the child’s bike and when he saw police he fled into the garden of a nearby house.

Police received a further report of an attempted burglary at a second address. A mobile phone was discovered at the scene, as well as fingerprints and a footwear impression. They all belonged to Mallett.

Nothing was taken from either property and no damage was caused. The bike, which was worth £145, had been taken from outside a third property in the Castledawson area.

Mark Reel, defending Palmer, said his client has an “extensive criminal record”, however has no previous convictions for burglary.

Nicola Coulter, defending Mallett, said the attempted burglary was in no way a “professional job”.

Judge Babington said it was clear the burglary was perpetrated by “two drunken idiots wandering around the countryside causing havoc”. Palmer received an eight month jail term suspended for two years. He was also fined £150 and disqualified from driving for 12 months. Mallett was ordered to complete 80 hours community service and to spend two years on probation.