A judge has praised two passersby who helped police catch a thug burglar moments after he had assaulted a woman in her home during a failed robbery.
Peter Cowan, of no fixed address, fled empty handed from the south Belfast flat where he had kicked a woman three times in the head, a court heard today.
He pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal and commons assault.
A prosecution barrister told Belfast Crown Court how a couple were in their flat at Cromwell Road in March this year when they heard a loud bang around 11 pm.
“When the woman opened theliving room door there was a tall and well built man standing there. She was scared and started to scream,’’ he said.
Cowan, 25, who had a hood up over his head and the coat zipped up to hide face, shouted at her “Give me the money. I want money.’’
She said she didn’t have any money but her partner said to her that there was money in another room.
As she went to try and escape, the lawyers said Cowan “grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the ground’’ and kicked her three times in the back of her head.
“Cowan lost his grip and she managed to run down the stairs, out the front door to the end of the street where she told two male passersby what happened,’’ added the prosecution barrister.
As Cowan ran past them, the two men gave chase and shouted at a police patrol to stop him.
Cowan was arrested and later charged with burglary with intent to steal and one charge of common assault.
The prosecution barrister told Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland that Cowan had 68 previous convictions including assault, common assault, criminal damage, and one count of threat to kill.
A defence barrister acknowledged that Cowan had a “deplorable record’’ and had been abusing alcohol since the age of 12.
Judge McFarland said the burglary and assault on the victim had been a “frightening experience’’ for her.
He said the two passersby had helped police to catch Cowan as he fled and were worthy of praise for their actions.
The judge sentenced Cowan to two years and six months, with one year to be spent in custody and 18 months on licence.