Burglar who told pensioner he was a member of An Garda Síochána has jail time increased

Quashing the original five-year term, the judge said Mr Jones would now serve six years in total for the burglaries, with the last 12 months suspended.
Burglar who told pensioner he was a member of An Garda Síochána has jail time increased

Peter Doyle

A bat-wielding burglar who broke into the home of a cocooning pensioner at 4am and shone a torch into her face while pretending he was a member of An Garda Síochána has had his jail time increased.

In February, Christopher Jones (28) was jailed for aggravated burglary and impersonating a member of An Garda Síochána after pleading guilty to the offence and other burglaries of houses in Cork city during the first Covid lockdown in April 2020.

He was sentenced to five years with 12 months suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on each count, with the terms to run concurrently.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later appealed the sentence on the grounds it had been unduly lenient.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal agreed with the DPP and said the sentence imposed on Jones in respect of the burglary at the elderly woman’s house was “substantially out of the norm”.

“One can only imagine how frightening it would have been for an elderly woman to suffer such a despicable intrusion to her home,” Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, said.

The sentencing judge’s headline sentence of seven years for the aggravated offence had been too low, Mr Justice Edwards said, adding that a more appropriate starting point would have been nine years

Quashing the original five-year term, the judge said Jones would now serve six years in total for the burglaries, with the last 12 months suspended.

Chaotic lifestyle

At an earlier hearing, Ray Boland SC, for the DPP, said break-ins had been planned and that Jones had armed himself with a baseball bat.

“This is significant,” counsel said, “because it does not play into the narrative of the respondent that he was living a chaotic lifestyle as a result of his drug addiction.”

He said the burglaries were not opportunistic and not the case of “someone going home drunk and seeing an open door”.

Niamh O’Donnabhain BL, for Jones, said her client had been living “in a slum” close to where the burglaries took place and that he was taking positive steps to address his drug addiction problems while in custody.

Dt Sgt Joe Young told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Jones and his accomplice stole cash amounts of €2,500 and £80 Sterling from the 83-year-old.

They also took a confirmation card which contained another €200 in cash.

Dt Sgt Young said the pensioner had been cocooning when she encountered the burglars in her home during the early hours of April 17th, 2020.

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