Finger print on ‘Journal’ identified defendant

Fingerprints on a copy of the ‘Derry Journal’ connected a woman to items stolen in cross-border burglaries, a court has heard.

Karen Marie McDonald, whose address was given on court papers as 4 Riverside House, Maguiresbridge, pleaded guilty to handling property stolen in the Republic of Ireland, receiving stolen goods and allowing herself to be carried in a stolen car.

The offences occurred between May 8, 2010 and June 3, 2010.

Derry Crown Court heard that police searched an address in Claudy and found a number of items reported stolen in burglaries on both sides of the border.

The total value of the goods was £2000.

Prosecuting counsel revealed that the 26-year-old’s fingerprints were found on a copy of the ‘Derry Journal’ inside the house.

Her DNA was also found on a toothbrush in the bathroom.

McDonald was arrested and interviewed by police, during which she denied any link to the Claudy address where the stolen items were found and denied being a passenger in a stolen car.

The court heard the 26-year-old has 47 previous convictions for dishonesty. It was also revealed that she has spent seven months on remand for these charges.

A defence barrister told the court McDonald had been in a relationship with a man who is currently in jail in the Republic of Ireland and she was “prone to his influence over the last ten years.”

He said the mother-of-two realises that she needs to “get her life sorted out” and has used her time on remand to attend various programmes to address her offending behaviour.

Suspending a two year jail term for two years, Judge Piers Grant said the offences were “serious.”

He added: “People who handle and receive stolen goods are the people who facilitate the burglaries and thefts. People like you make it worthwhile.”

Judge Grant said: “Ordinary decent people have had their homes invaded and their property taken. They cannot afford to just write this off. It is time you and people like you realise that.”

The judge said McDonald was “directly responsible for the upset and distress these people have suffered.”

Referring to the 26-year-old’s previous convictions, which were all dealt with in the magistrates court, the judge warned McDonald she was “in big school now.”

“You are now before the crown court and if you continue to offend you will be back before the crown court and that means lengthy terms of imprisonment.”

The judge said that it was McDonald’s “absolute last chance” and urged her “to take it.”