Cocaine addict jailed for ten months today for Christmas holiday break-ins at Masonic Centre

Ballymena Magistrates Court

A cocaine addict from Larne who targeted the town’s Masonic Centre and stole over £1,000 in cash during Christmas holidays has been jailed for ten months.

Ryan Robert Connor (36), whose address was given as Mill House, Priory Gardens, admitted two counts of burglary at the Masonic Centre on December 26 and December 27, 2016, relating to the theft of cash of £110 and £1,075.

He also pleaded guilty to going equipped for burglary in that ‘not being at your place of abode had with you an article namely a a screwdriver, a torch, a black balaclava, a beanie hat, black rubber gloves, a crowbar, steel wrench, pair of green gloves and a pair of white gloves for use in the course of or in connection with any burglary theft or cheat’.
Connor also admitted a charge of burglary of the premises with intent to steal.

Charges of causing criminal damage to flood lights, a fire door, padlock and gaming machine were withdrawn.

The defendant appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry Prison on Thursday.

A prosecutor said that after the Masonic Centre break-ins Connor was later stopped in a car and found with money and items including a crowbar.

Damage of around £2,000 was caused to the centre and to gaming machines.

A defence lawyer said Connor had been given an eight year sentence on Tuesday at Antrim Crown Court. That was for an armed robbery at a shop in Larne.

The lawyer said all the offences happened at a time when Connor was “addicted to cocaine” after having problems with drink and drugs for years.

“He ran up massive debts and these were wanton and flagrant attempts to primarily pay off debts,” said the lawyer.

He said Connor had written a letter to the Crown Court judge saying he had had time to reflect on his behaviour and how it had impacted upon others.

Jailing Connor for ten months at Ballymena Court, which will be served concurrently with his current jail term, District Judge Nigel Broderick said the matters before Thursday’s court were serious and ones to which “no doubt a certain degree of planning went into”.

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