Drug addict pair jailed for spate of Sunderland burglaries

Gareth Connolly, left, and James Dillon have been jailed for a string of burglaries.
Gareth Connolly, left, and James Dillon have been jailed for a string of burglaries.

A serial burglar who targeted a shop during a Christmas Day raid has been put behind bars.

Gareth Connolly broke into Kings Chicken, in Park Lane, Sunderland, and took machinery from the store room.

Newcastle Crown Court.

Newcastle Crown Court.

He was captured on CCTV leaving the fast food outlet after the 10-minute break-in on December 25.

The raid was one of six that the 36-year-old dad has admitted carrying out.

At Newcastle Crown Court, Connolly, who was on a suspended sentence at the time of the raids, was jailed for six years.

Two break-ins, at occupied homes in Chester Road and High Barnes Terrace, were carried out within hours of him being convicted in court of two other house raids at Waterloo Street and Oxford Street.

Prosecutor Nicholas Rook told the court: “Twelve hours after his conviction he went out and committed burglaries.”

Connolly, of The Royalty, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to a total of four house burglaries and two raids at local businesses.

He also admitted handling stolen goods in relation to cement mixer he had at his home, which he initially told police was a gift for his cousin.

As well as the Christmas Day chicken shop burglary, Connolly targeted Dandy Long Legs bar in Silksworth Row.

He managed to get away with £400 and took a bottle of Southern Comfort while he was there.

Co-accused James Dillon, 47, of Pine Street, Pallion, who was found guilty of taking part in the Waterloo Street and Oxford Street raids after a trial, as well as two attempted house break-ins, has been jailed for two years and nine months.

Judge Deborah Sherwin told the men: “It is clear both of you were addicted to drugs at this time. House burglaries are serious and only immediate custodial sentences can be justified.”

Paul Currier, defending, said Connolly is determined to turn his life around when he is released.