34-year-old jailed for aggravated burglary

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A man who broke into a flat in the Brandywell armed with a knife has been jailed for six years.

Shaun Patrick Hegarty, who has an address in Drumaness, Co.Down, was convicted of aggravated burglary on July 1, last year.

The 34-year-old was also found guilty of assault with intent to rob.

He was unanimously convicted of both charges following a four day trial at Derry Crown Court.

However, Hegarty still denies the offences and maintains he is an innocent man.

The court heard the 34-year-old entered a flat in Glendara Gardens in the early hours of the morning.

The injured party had just returned home from working in a local bar and was with two friends.

Hegarty and another man came into the flat. The second man didn’t remain in the flat for long.

Hegarty was armed with a large knife, which was described as a chef’s knife, and both men were ‘out of their heads’.

He held the knife to a 61-year-old man’s throat and pointed it at his stomach.

The three people were ‘effectively held prisoner’ for 15 or 20 minutes before Hegarty left, realising he may have got the wrong house.

None of the injured parties sustained any physical injury but there has been a psychological impact as a result of the incident.

The 61-year-old, who had the knife held to his throat, described it as ‘the most terrifying experience of his life’.

It was revealed Hegarty, who has 74 previous convictions, has been assessed as a category two violent offender under the Public Protection Arrangements of Northern Ireland.

However, he has not been assessed as posing a risk of significant harm.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said ‘aggravated burglary is always a serious offence as it represents a violation of the privacy of one’s home coupled with the threats of violence as in this case’.

He added ‘this was a most frightening experience for the three innocent injured parties who were enjoying each other’s company in the early hours of a summer morning.’

“The defendant entered the property as though he owned it and by his conduct terrified the occupants. It is clear that the defendant did not care how he treated the occupants or how his actions impacted upon them at all.”

The judge imposed a determinate sentence of six years, half to be spent in custody and half on licence.