Cookstown couple woke to find house ransacked and dozy thief sound asleep on urine-soaked sofa

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A homeless thief, caught snoozing on a urine-soaked sofa after ransacking a house, has been jailed for six months.

John Kelly, who has a forty year criminal record of ‘substantial offending’, appeared at Dungannon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

He was charged with burglary and criminal damage after an incident which took place in a house on December 7 last year at Union Place, Cookstown.

The court heard how the owner of the house awoke to find Kelly downstairs sleeping on the living-room sofa. When shouted at by the householder, Kelly jumped up, put on a black hat and said he was ‘Paddy’s mate”, before rushing out.

Afterwards, the owner noticed that money and a wallet had been stolen, and that the sofa was soaked with urine, causing £280 worth of damage. However, he was unable to identify if Kelly had forced entry.

Later in the day, the resident spotted Kelly walking on Molesworth Street and rang the police, the court was told.

When arrested, Kelly claimed to have spent the night sleeping in a communal hallway.

Defence solicitor Jarlath Faloon said that his client had chronic problems and was homeless. The defendant, who has been in custody since February 24, hoped to return to living with the Simon Community in Cookstown, as that was where his friends live.

He conceded that the defendant had probably gone beyond the pale in terms of a community order, but asked the judge to give him credit for an early guilty plea.

District Judge John Meehan said Kelly’s probation report made very bleak reading, and condemned his behaviour as being beyond drunken aberration. The judge said his ‘nasty’ behaviour had caused trauma to his victims.

He sentenced Kelly to four months in prison for theft, and a further two months in prison for criminal damage.

The judge added that he hoped that this break from Kelly’s usual routine would help change his lifestyle and encourage him to give up drinking alcohol.