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Judge gives addict serial burglar another chance
A SERIAL burglar with 82 previous convictions stole a young child’s birthday money in a raid on an Oxford house but was spared prison.
Martin McDonagh has been sentenced to a total of 20 years and six months in jail in his 37-year life, but was given one last chance to break the cycle.
Judge Julian Knowles admitted his decision to offer McDonagh a drug rehabiliation course was “against my better judgement”.
But he told Oxford Crown Court on Friday: “It is clear that prison has not worked”.
McDonagh was sentenced after admitting two counts of burglary.
He was jailed for similar offences for three years in 2003 and 2007 and for a total of 876 days in 2008.
The court heard that on May 4 he broke into Rachel Drummond’s home in Aldrich Road, Cutteslowe, North Oxford, and took a Blu-ray player, children’s clothes and £50 birthday money given to the victim’s young son.
Ten days later, McDonagh, of no fixed address, was caught in the act of burgling Erin Wheeler’s home in Margaret Road, Headington, and fled empty handed.
Michael Edmonds, defending, said: “He first began using Class A drugs at the age of 13.
“His introduction to Class A drugs seems to have come from his father who was a drug addict and a man with a substantial criminal record. He died at the age of 37, the age my client is now, from prolonged drug misuse.”
Mr Edmonds said homeless McDonagh had managed to secure private funding for two drug rehabilitation programmes while in custody awaiting sentence.
Judge Knowles ordered two years’ supervision with a 12-month residential rehabilitation requirement.
He said he hoped McDonagh would use that time to “assess what kind of man you are to sink so low” as to steal a child’s birthday money.
But Judge Knowles added: “It’s plain to me you are making real efforts to break the cycle of addiction. Society would be better protected by giving you a chance to get clean.”
He added: “This is your last chance.”
McDonagh was ordered to pay £50 compensation to his young victim.