Church-goer launched terrifying break-in at ex-girlfriend’s

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

A “devout church-goer” smashed windows and forced the doors of his ex-girlfriend’s home, Wigan magistrates heard.

Matthew Hendry, 26, from Toothill Close in Ashton-in-Makerfield, appeared before the court charged with criminal damage to a property.

He pleaded guilty and was given a 12-month conditional discharge and slapped with a £1,105 fine, the majority of which is compensation to the victim.

Magistrates heard how in the early hours of Sunday, March 5, Hendry broke into his former partner’s property by breaking three external doors and shattering glass windows on the conservatory.

The victim Zoe McMahon, who had been in a relationship with Hendry for around two years before the pair broke up in June, gave a statement to police immediately after the incident while she was still unaware that Hendry was the culprit.

Ms McMahon said: “I’m very frightened and feel very sick.

“I feel very vulnerable that someone has been in my house while I was asleep.

“Anything could have happened to me. I can’t believe I slept through this.”

Hendry was caught on the property by CCTV footage provided by the victim’s neighbour.

Defence solicitor, Bob Toppin, told justices how this was a “strange offence in many ways.”

He explained how Hendry and his partner had split with “no animosity” and that the defendant had no idea why he had broken in.

Mr Toppin said: “You have heard how there are no previous criminal convictions. He is a regular church-goer and is very devout. He met the victim in church two or three years ago.

“There was no animosity and no reason as to why he did what he did. He accepts that he has caused the damage. He wasn’t trying to get into the property. He has medication for depression and is not supposed to drink.”

The court heard how Hendry had been out on the night in question, drinking alcohol, and has little recollection of the events.

Hendry, whose family are also “devout church-goers”, has been unable to return to the same church since because his ex-partner continues to attend.

The magistrates’ chairwoman said: “We would agree, it seems quite a strange case in relation to the motive. We have given credit for your guilty plea and we are not going to put a restraining order on.”