Bungling burglars caught with restaurant’s ‘rich pickings’

Tribeton on Merchant's Road

A burglar realised there were rich pickings to be had at a city restaurant when he walked in one day and stole a cash box containing €3,000, so he returned in the middle of the night with an accomplice two months later and stole the main safe.

Frank Barrett (35), with an address at 19 Beal Srutha, Ballybane; and his accomplice, Tom Sweeney (35), with an address at 214 Castle Park, Ballybane, used a sledge hammer and a crowbar to force open a side door at the Tribeton restaurant at Merchant’s Road at 3am on January 18 last.

The pair broke through a locked office door upstairs where they located a safe. They pushed it down the stairs setting off the alarm as they went.

Sweeney, who was driving a small white van at the time, reversed into a pedestrian door at the entrance of an apartment complex adjacent to the restaurant, setting off an alarm there, too.

Gardai later found the safe, unopened, at the rear of the restaurant.

Shards of glass were evident on Sweeney’s clothing when he was arrested a short distance away at 5.30am the same day.

Both men were positively identified on CCTV arriving in the van and using the tools to break into the restaurant.

Earlier that night the pair were involved in a separate incident at an apartment complex in Plunkett Avenue, Mervue, where they caused €500 worth of damage to a front door leading to the complex.

Gardaí believe they mistook the door for another door which led to a business premises.

Both accused pleaded guilty to the offences at Galway District Court this week.

Barrett further pleaded guilty to burglary at Tribeton restaurant on November 12 last, during which a cash box containing €3,000 was stolen. The money was never recovered.

The court heard Sweeney had 82 previous convictions, including a number for previous burglaries; while Barrett had 110 previous, including several for burglaries.

Defence solicitor, Alma Whelan, said both men had addiction issues and were both intoxicated when these offences were committed.

Judge Fahy sentenced Sweeney to a total of 17 months in prison and she disqualified him from driving for 10 years.

She imposed sentences totalling 21 months on Barrett.