Jail for Leeds career burglar who threatened young mum as he targeted family home

Luke O'Flaherty.
Luke O'Flaherty.

A CAREER burglar has been jailed for eight years after he threatened a young mum as he targeted a family home.

Luke O’Flaherty was handed the lengthy sentence after he forced the victim to relive the trauma of her ordeal at a trial when he refused to accept his guilt.

Jailing the 45-year-old, judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: “Too often the courts underestimate the trauma that burglars cause to their victims.

“The sense of insecurity, the vulnerability that householders feel when their homes are invaded by complete strangers and possessions taken. Well not this court.

“(The victim) is a strong, confident, woman but what you did to her has left her feeling like a prisoner in her own home.

“She is now anxious and scared. Rarely does a judge get to see at first hand the damaging effects this offending has.”

O’Flaherty carried out the offence in the early hours of November 7 last year.

The jury heard the victim had recently given birth for the second time and was sleeping downstairs as her partner was upstairs with their two children.

O’Flaherty went into the house and turned on the lights as he looked around for property to steal.

The woman awoke to be confronted by O’Flaherty as he was holding the family’s TV.

He swore at her and threatened her before leaving.

The woman then discovered her car keys were missing, along with a purse, money and savings cards which were supposed to pay for the family’s Christmas.

The woman broke down in the witness box as she described being “petrified” at having to see O’Flaherty again when she had to pick him out at an identify procedure.

O’Flaherty, of The Towers, Hilltop Road, Armley, pleaded not guilty to burglary but was convicted by the jury

The court heard he has a long criminal record, mainly for domestic burglary, dating back to when he was a teenager. He was out of prison on licence at the time of the offence.

Judge Bayliss told O’Flaherty: “One of the purposes of sentencing is to protect the public.

“You are plainly committed to further re-offending because you are unwilling to rehabilitate yourself even in your forties.”