Two burglars who confronted a man and his terrified granddaughter in the pensioner’s Tandragee home were handed sentences totalling 63 months.
Imposing a three year sentence on 47-year-old Martin Ward and a 27 month sentence on David Braniff (28), each to be served half in jail and half on licence, Judge Gordon Kerr KC said the incident was made all the worse because of the “vulnerable victims.”
At an earlier hearing Ward, from Moyraverty Court in Craigavon and Braniff, from the Moyraverty Centre, both entered guilty pleas to a single count of aggravated burglary with intent to steal relating to a property on Ashtree Hill in Tandragee where they were armed with a pair of tin snips.
The court heard how the 74-year-old victim had gone home having picked to his four-year-old granddaughter from school but when they got into the hallway, they were confirmed by two particularly masked men.
Judge Kerr outlined how the pair blocked the way to the front door with Ward holding a pair of tin snips above his head in his right hand, “the blades facing the injured party, putting him in fear for his own and his granddaughter’s safety”.
The pair tried to take the pensioner’s car keys but failed when he kicked out at them and they fled empty handed, speeding away in a Nissan vehicle while the “upset and shaking” victims ran to a neighbour’s house for help.
The police were alerted and thankfully the pensioner had had the presence of mind to take a photograph of the strange Nissan car parked on his driveway and police investigations lead officers to a burning vehicle on the Armagh Road in Tandragee with the two defendants arrested in the same area.
Back at the property, police discovered the pair had forced their way in by smashing a bathroom window but when evidence was put to them after they had sobered up, Ward refused to answer police questions and Braniff have a prepared statement that his accomplice smashed the window and told him to come inside.
Judge Kerr said that with both men having multiple and relevant previous convictions, he was taking that as a further aggravating factor.
Jailing the pair, the judge said while the offence itself “is at the lower ends of the scale” for aggravated burglary as no one was physically hurt and they fled empty handed, nevertheless “there’s no doubt that this was an extremely frightening experience” for the pensioner and his granddaughter.