Man (19) took part in burglary

A 19 year old man who took part in a pre-planned burglary and allowed himself to be carried in three stolen vehicles from a Banbridge mechanics yard, has been sent to the Young Offenders Centre for five months.

Ryan John Simms from Damolly Village, Newry appeared before Banbridge Magistrates Court last week facing three counts of allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle.

The court heard how Simms was arrested a year after the break-in via DNA evidence and was part of a three person operation involved in the theft of three vehicles from the mechanic’s premises at Dublin Road, Banbridge.

It was also revealed in court that the business owner targeted in the operation, faced a hike of almost £1,000 in his insurance premium.

Furthermore the total amount paid out by insurance companies for the vehicle stolen was £4,350.

A PPS Prosecutor explained how on August 10, 2012 police received a report from the injured party to say his mechanics yard had been broken into and a number of vehicles stolen.

Police investigations led them to interview a number of persons including Simms and during interview he admitted being carried in three vehicles with another person driving.

The court heard that the vehicles had been eventually found in Meigh, South Armagh.

The defendant’s solicitor Mr Byrne said his client came from an unsettled background.

He said his client went to live in England in November 2012 due to him being under threat from the two other people involved in the incident.

He said his client made full admissions to police and gave them an accurate account of what happened on the night in question.

This included the trio taking the gate off the hinges and removing the vehicles.

Mr Byrne stressed his client did not benefit financially from the break-in, adding that he was “easily led and vulnerable, making the wrong life choices.”

“He found himself involved with these individuals who were bigger and cleverer than him.

“He was in a lesser role and clearly police have accepted this.”

Mr Byrne said Simms put himself in danger by supplying the names of the others involved in these offences.

Handing down sentence District Judge Mr Copeland said he was satisfied that the custody threshold had been met.

“You have 42 previous convictions, now 45 and you were party to a planned and organised burglary and theft of a number of vehicles. This was clearly a planned enterprise and you brazenly went back twice more.

“An examination of your record reveals the courts have exhausted community based sentences. I want this sentence to be a deterrent to others.

“A local business was targeted and as a result of this pre-planning, there has been a loss of thousands of pounds to the insurance company and the hard working businessman.

“You have hope for the future as does the businessman who had his property stolen. However you must realise that before you realise your hopes there are debts to be settled.

“This man had to explain the loss of vehicles to his customers and insurers and face an enormous leap in his insurance premium.

“I am satisfied you were completely compliant and took part in this with commitment and enthusiasm.

“I’m told you were in fear of these people but you deliberately chose their company for seven years. This is what happens when thieves fall out.”

Simms is set to appeal the sentence and bail was fixed in the sum of £500.