Shaun Hegarty, 34, jailed for threatening man with chef knife

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house
Image caption Hegarty will serve three years of the sentence without remission and three years on licence following his prison release

A burglar who pressed a chef's knife against the throat and stomach of a 61-year-old man has been jailed for six years at Londonderry Crown Court.

Shaun Patrick Joseph Hegarty, 34, from The Green, Drumaness, County Down, was found guilty earlier this year of aggravated burglary while armed with a knife and of assaulting his victim.

The offences occurred in the early hours of 1 July 2013.

Hegarty told the judge: "I am innocent, it was not me".

The victim returned home from work to his flat at Glendara Gardens in the Brandywell area of Londonderry.

Inside the flat were two friends of the victim, a man and a woman.

Shortly after he returned home the victim was confronted by a man in his hall who was armed with a knife.

Dragged the victim

The victim described the knife as very big and believed it was a chef's knife.

There was another man with Hegarty, who did not stay long in the flat.

The victim described both men as "out out of their heads, full of drugs or drink".

Hegarty then grabbed his victim and put the knife to his throat. He then moved the knife to his victim's stomach and warned him he would "run the knife into him" if he tried to get up.

Hegarty then dragged his victim around his flat.

The victim's female friend shouted at Hegarty that she had five brothers and that she was going to phone the police.

Hegarty then said "mistaken identity" and told the two men and the woman not to phone the police and he left.

The entire incident lasted between 15 to 20 minutes.

The judge said while none of the three people in the flat suffered any physical injury, Hegarty had remained behind his victim with the knife at his throat or aimed at his stomach through the incident and also dragged the victim around his flat.

'Frightening'

A victim impact report stated that the victim has since developed a prolonged adjustment disorder with other complications and has cut back on his working hours.

His male friend developed stress-like symptoms and his female friend had pre-existing problems exacerbated by her ordeal.

The judge said Hegarty had 74 previous criminal convictions that included kidnapping, burglaries, assaults and possessing offensive weapons.

He said a pre-sentence report stated that Hegarty had a stable upbringing, but also had a traumatic time being placed in residential care at the age of ten.

He then had to deal with the tragic death of his brother in 1994.

The judge said: "This was a most frightening incident for the three innocent parties who were enjoying each other's company in the early hours of a summer morning.

"The defendant entered the property as though he owned it and by his conduct terrified the occupants.

"It is clear the defendant did not care how he treated the occupants or how his actions impacted upon them at all.

"Thankfully he saw sense before actual physical violence might have been inflicted and realised he may have been in the wrong house and left."

Hegarty is originally from Strabane, County Tyrone, but now lives in County Down.