Accused of breaking into handicapped neighbour's home

Published: 13 Jul 2012 13:000 comments

A 22-year-old thief accused of breaking into the home of his severely handicapped next door neighbour has allegedly threatened to kill himself.

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Dean Gillen, of Windmill Heights, Enniskillen, has denied burglary, claiming he heard glass smashing and went next door to see if his disabled neighbour was all right.

District Judge Liam McNally remanded him in custody, telling him there was a "very strong case that you broke into this house" and a "likelihood" that if released on bail "you would commit further offences".

He referred to Gillen's alleged threat to kill himself, and the responsibility of the prison authorities in that regard, and the apparent suicide of 37-year-old Niall Leonard, from Lisnaskea, in Maghaberry Prison on Sunday.

"If there's a likelihood of further offences I can't not remand him in custody because he is threatening self-harm," stated the District Judge.

Gillen, who is sometimes known as Rogers, is charged with the burglary of his neighbour's home on July 7.

He is also charged that handling stolen goods, namely five gold rings, two gold bracelets, a gold necklace and a pair of gold earrings on July 2.

He is further accused of dishonestly receiving stolen goods, namely five World War II medals and six silver cups belonging to David Brien, between July 1 and 6.

Objecting to bail, a detective told Fermanagh Court that in the early hours of June 3, there was a burglary at Main Street, Ballinamallard.

Gillen was found at the County Jewellers trying to sell some of the stolen items. His home was searched and more items from the burglary were found. He was interviewed and denied involvement in the burglary but admitted knowing the items were stolen. He was released late on Friday night, July 6, under a curfew from 9pm until 8am.

At 6.58am the following morning police received a report of a burglary in progress at his next door neighbour's home. Officers arrived two minutes later to find Gillen and another man inside the neighbour's house.

The detective described Gillen's neighbour as a "severely disabled man", who lives in the house from Monday to Thursday with round-the-clock care and spends weekends with his family.

He said he feared that if Gillen was released there could be interference with witnesses.

The officer also pointed out that Gillen appeared at the same court on June 25, and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, for theft.

Defence solicitor, Mr. Tony McGettigan, submitted that in the past Gillen had always turned up for court when released on bail. He had also given police an explanation as to why he was in his neighbour's house. He told them he heard a window smashing and he and a companion climbed into the house to see if his neighbour was all right.

The officer said Gillen knew his neighbour was never there at the weekend.

He explained that entry was gained by smashing a window in the rear door.

"Your client admitted climbing through the broken window," the detective told Mr. McGettigan.

"He has now committed offences while on bail," the officer added.

Mr. McGettigan told the court that Gillen had an aunt who was prepared to go and live with him and see that he abided by his bail conditions.

The detective said that due to the vulnerability of the handicapped person living next door, he believed Gillen's home address was "not a suitable address at all" for him to be bailed to.

He added that when interviewed by the police Gillen told police he had a number of issues and "it was his intention to hang himself".

Mr. McGettigan stated: "An aunt has said she is willing to go and stay with him. He has always answered bail in the past and denies these charges."

The District Judge pointed out that Gillen had appeared before him on June 25, and been given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for theft and in relation to the present charges had admitted possessing items he knew to be stolen.

He said that if he released him on bail there was a "likelihood" he would commit further offences.

He remanded Gillen in custody to appear back before Fermanagh Court by video link on August 6.

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