Northern Ireland

Attempted murderer jailed for probation breach

A man convicted of attempted murder in 2005 has been jailed for six months for breaching his probation conditions.

Gerard Michael Donegan, 30, was sentenced to 15 years, to be followed by 18 months probation, for an attack on Maurice McCracken in south Belfast.

His brother, 26-year-old Kevin Barry Donegan, was given an eight-year term for involvement in the same attack.

Donegan, with an address on the Ross Road in west Belfast, served seven-and-a-half years of his term.

His victim was left with severe brain damage after Donegan hit him over the head with a hammer as he slept in his Strangford Avenue home.

Donegan was initially rearrested on suspicion of involvement in a cash-in-transit robbery in April 2010 but released on High Court bail.

But he was again arrested on further alleged offences, including attempted robbery, having a weapon and aggravated car theft, supposedly committed in August.

Although neither of those cases has yet reached the courts, Donegan indicated through his counsel on Thursday that he wished "the matter be dealt with today" despite an inevitable jail sentence.

The court heard that Donegan had regularly engaged with probation but in July a threat from someone with a "paramilitary connection" meant he "went off the radar".

Sentencing Donegan to six months Mr Justice Deeney said that the serious offences in 2003 and its "grave consequences" were "alive to the court".