Prolific Dungannon burglar who targeted elderly woman had 29 prior convictions

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A Dungannon man with a “prolific’’ criminal record was warned that he faces a “substantial custodial sentence’’ for burgling the home of an elderly woman.

John Patrick Nixon (30), of Castle Hill, Dungannon, had pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and stealing a purse and wallet from his victim’s home.

Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that on January 17 this year the 75-year-old lady was at her Kalendra Court home when her son called.

Prosecution lawyer Simon Reid told the court that before leaving the man went out into the garden to turn on his mum’s heating and when he returned he noticed a back door to the house was ajar.

“He saw a male standing with one foot inside the property. He was wearing black woollen gloves who then tried to push past him to get out.’’

Judge Stephen Fowler QC heard that the elderly woman and her son along with a neighbour were able to restrain Nixon before police were called and he was arrested.

Nixon tried to claim that the victim’s son had pushed him into the house and also alleged he had gone to the address by mistake to relieve himself.

“The Crown rejects these excuses. The intention was to burgle the property and steal the purse and wallet,’’ added Mr Reid.

The prosecutor told the court that Nixon had 63 convictions on his criminal record which started in 2002 and included 17 offences for burglary, eight of theft and four for robbery.

One of the robbery convictions related to a break-in at a parochial house during which he stole £500 in cash, the keys to a priest’s car along with his mobile phone.

Mr Reid said the aggravating features in the case was Nixon’s record, the victim was aged 75 and she lived alone.

A defence barrister told the court that Nixon’s criminal record “doesn’t cover him in glory’’ but added that defendant had told the Probation Service in a pre-sentence report that he “doesn’t want to spend any more time in custody’’ and was prepared to “establish a life for himself out of custody’’.

“In the report he voices his regret and he accepts the distress he has caused to the injured party which has left her weary and he understands why should feel like that’’.

Judge Fowler described Nixon’s criminal record as “prolific’’ and noted that in 2012 the defendant received a four year sentence for burglary, with more than half the sentence spent on probation, adding: “And that didn’t do him a lot of good.’’

Deferring sentence until later the this month, the judge said: “These are serious offences and the defendant should be under no illisuion that this will attract a substantial custodial sentence given the number of aggravating features.’’