Northern Ireland

Belfast man broke into two churches in three months

A man with over 30 previous convictions has been jailed for breaking into two churches in three months.

Paul Kerr, 37, from Gartree Place in Belfast, has admitted breaking into Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church hall on 7 December 2009.

Belfast Crown Court heard on Monday that he also admitted burgling St Donard's Parish Church on the Bloomfield Road on 26 March this year.

Judge Philip Babington jailed him for four years.

Kerr was arrested after police found his fingerprints on a wooden block in the Rosemary Street hall on 7 December last year.

Police found a locked cupboard in the hall had been broken into and the pay phone had been damaged.

Kerr was interviewed and released on bail.

False name

On 26 March police were called when he was seen climbing through the window of St Donard's Parish Church on the Bloomfield Road.

After the police arrived, Kerr emerged from an antechamber and said he was there because he wanted to speak to a minister about family problems, although he was not a member of the church's congregation.

When questioned by police, the defendant gave a false name. His true identity was only revealed when police found a prescription in his real name.

Kerr was then arrested and interviewed again. He intially refused to co-operate with police questioning, but later pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary with intent to steal and to obstructing police.

Passing sentence Judge Philip Babington revealed that Kerr had 21 previous convictions for burglary and ten for theft among a total of 70 previous offences.