Man who burgled churches is jailed

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house

A man who pleaded guilty to breaking into three Catholic churches and into seven houses last year has been jailed for almost three years at Londonderry Crown Court.

Bernard Cooke, 21, from Lettershandoney Avenue in Derry committed the ten offences in October, November and December 2012.

He was already on court bail at the time.

Cooke stole £200 from a Trócaire charity box and Christmas presents.

He broke into St Patrick's church, Pennyburn, St Mary's Parochial house in Ardmore and St Brigid's church in Carnhill.

In the domestic burglaries, which Judge Stephen Fowler described as an "invasion of the householders' privacy", Cooke stole Christmas presents, a laptop and jewellery.

When Cooke was released on compassionate bail last month to attend his grandmother's funeral he failed a drugs test when he was returned to custody.

Cooke will serve half the sentence in prison and the remainder on licence.