A man who carried out a burglary in which a which an Elvis impersonator had a special poem and treasured pictures of his late wife stolen has been given a suspended jail term.
Maurice Ayres, (21), whose address was given as the Simon Community hostel at Coleraine’s Lodge Road, broke into the home of 54-year-old Andy Rodgers in April this year.
At the time, Mr Rodgers had spoken of his distress over the break-in but also of his relief that the items were recovered within days. He said the precious family snaps and poignant poetry were of great sentimental value as the prose had been penned by his wife Diane just before she tragically passed away eight years before from cancer.
The Rodgers’ house at Willowfield Avenue, Coleraine, was targeted in the early hours of April 23 this year just two days before Andy and his daughter Jenna (20) and son Shane (18) were due to have marked what would have been Diane’s 48th birthday.
And with the stress of the break-in hanging over them he said their plans to remember Diane, on April 25 this year were unsettled as at that stage the personal items had not been recovered.
Andy, who is well-known in the north coast area as an Elvis impersonator, said the stolen poem and photos were all returned on Tuesday April 26.
Ayres pleaded guilty to a burglary in which he took a tv, school bag and contents of a black handbag and a purse, car key and £25 and two other charges of theft.
On the same date he took a purse and a bag belonging to another woman and along with a £100 bicycle from a neighbour of the Rodgers which he used to make a getaway.
Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Monday the bike’s owner has MS and he relied on it for transport. It has not been recovered.
A prosecutor said Ayres was suspected of the thefts and CCTV showed him carrying a TV and two bags into the Simon Community and they were found in his room.
Ayres told police he was at a party in Portstewart where he had taken “numerous drugs and alcohol” and had little recollection of what he did on the day in question but accepted it was most likely him that carried out the thefts.
Defence barrister Michael Smith said Ayres had taken cocaine and alcohol.
District Judge Liam McNally imposed a nine months sentence, suspended for three years, and ordered Ayres to pay compensation for items which were not recovered.