Groom to be from Derry jailed for breaking into Belfast church where he was to get married

A groom-to-be from Derry has been jailed for breaking into a church in Belfast where he planned to get married.


Philip Lynch, 24, returned to St Michael the Archangel chapel on Finaghy Road North hours after meeting a priest to discuss his wedding.

Sentencing him to five months custody today, a judge said: “This is a mean offence.”

Lynch, of Clooney Road in Derry, admitted carrying out the burglary with intent to steal on July 18 this year. Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard a man wearing dark clothes and surgical gloves was spotted fleeing from the church as an alarm went off at around 9.30pm. A caretaker carried out checks and discovered a number of items had been disturbed. A set of step ladders were erected at the side of the building, leading onto a roof and a damaged first floor window. Entry to the church is believed to have been gained through that open window. Blood discovered on a bracket at the point of entry was forensically matched to Lynch. He was arrested and initially denied responsibility for the break-in.

There is no suggestion that his fiancee knew anything about the subsequent burglary.


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The court heard Lynch has more than 40 previous convictions, including a separate burglary offence for which he received a 12-month suspended prison sentence this year. Turlough Madden, defending, cited alcohol and drug misuse for his client’s criminal behaviour. Lynch was homeless at the time he targeted St Michael the Archangel, according to the barrister. Mr Madden also stressed that nothing was actually stolen from the church.

Imposing the prison term, Deputy District Judge Liam McStay also referred Lynch back to the Crown Court for a potential breach of his earlier suspended sentence, warning: “It isn’t the end of the matter at this stage, Mr Lynch.”