Repeat offender jailed for ‘mean’ theft of church lead

The lead was stolen from Glengormley Presbyterian Church in July
The lead was stolen from Glengormley Presbyterian Church in July

A man who carried out the “mean” theft of lead from a church has been jailed for seven months.

Darren O’Sullivan, 26, joined others to carry out the raid on Glengormley Presbyterian Church just outside north Belfast.

Lead flashing valued at £100 was stolen from the building on the Antrim Road in the early hours of July 8.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard police called to the scene were able to arrest those involved.

O’Sullivan, of Oldpark Road in the city, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft.

His barrister, Kelly Doherty, argued that he had not instigated the crime.

“He was not the orchestrator, he was brought along because he had a car,” she claimed.

Ms Doherty insisted there was no damage caused, and distanced the offence from crimes of violence.

She also described her client as a vulnerable individual suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to a punishment attack years ago.

“This is an individual who has fallen out of the mainstream of society,” the lawyer contended.

But Judge Peter Prenter pointed to O’Sullivan’s record of 10 previous theft and dishonesty offences carried out for financial gain.

He said: “This one, stealing lead off a church, is particularly mean.”

Despite defence submissions, Mr Prenter stressed that O’Sullivan was in breach of at least one suspended sentence.

“He simply doesn’t seem to have learnt a lesson at all,” the judge added.

“It’s my view that there’s no other option but (immediate imprisonment).”

O’Sullivan was ordered to serve four months for the theft, with a further three months of the earlier suspended term also activated.

He was granted bail pending a planned appeal against the sentence imposed.