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Burglar defecated on sitting room floor


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Burglar defecated on sitting room floor Burglar defecated on sitting room floor

Burglars broke into a woman’s home where one of them defecated on her sitting room floor before both made off with blankets, cushions and curtains along with some cheese and beetroot from her fridge.

Gardaí found both homeless men on the steps of the Claddagh church a short time later, well wrapped up and tucking into the food.

48-year-old Richard O’Brien, a native of Killarney and of no fixed abode, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison with the final 18 months suspended at Galway Circuit Criminal Court for his role in the burglary.

He pleaded guilty last April to breaking into the house in the Claddagh on August 14 last year. Sentence was adjourned for the preparation of reports.

A bench warrant was issued for the arrest of his accomplice, 44-year-old Martin Ward, 29 The New Glebe, Tuam, after he failed to appear before the court for sentence.

Sergeant Diarmuid Cloonan gave evidence he responded to a call around 6.30am and met a woman in her sixties at her residence, who was in a distressed state.

She told him she had been asleep when she was woken by the light being switched on in her upstairs bedroom. She saw a man in the doorway. He looked at her and then switched off the light and left the room, closing the door. She stayed in the room but could hear him and another man in the room next-door. She heard them go downstairs about 20 minutes later.  She got up and went to the top of the stairs where she saw them leave through the front door.

Someone had defecated on the sitting room floor and she noticed blankets, cushions, and a curtain had been taken along with Edam cheese and beetroot from the fridge. The front door had also been kicked in and was damaged.

The woman gave Gardaí a description of both men and they quickly located them outside the church.

The woman declined to come to court but she did give a victim impact statement.

She said she had not suffered any lasting psychological trauma but she sometimes felt vulnerable while in the house.

She also felt intimidated by their entering her property and the violence used to do so.

“They spent 15 to 20 minutes in the upstairs room next to me and that is what I find most frightening. They excreted on the floor and sofa in the main room downstairs too. I was left feeling helpless and low,” she said in her statement.

The court heard O’Brien had 535 previous convictions and was currently serving an eight-month sentence imposed on him in Kerry..

Sgt Cloonan confirmed O’Brien had several convictions for other burglaries going back as far as 2009.  There were 37 for thefts, 405 for public order offences, with 339 of those for being drunk in public, and ten for assault.  He received a seven-month term in Cork in 2014 for sexual assault, had six convictions for the possession of drugs, six for causing criminal damage, while the remainder were for road traffic offences and failing to appear in court.

Conall MacCarthy, defending, said his client came from a very respectable, hardworking Kerry family. He had a wife and children too who welcomed him home whenever he chose to go there.

However, he said, criminality flowed from O’Brien’s alcohol addiction and when it took hold of him he would leave home and get involved in crime to feed that addiction.

Mr MacCarthy said O’Brien was sleeping rough and in the throes of his alcohol addiction at the time of this offence.

His client wished to apologise for the damage done to the woman’s sitting room but denied he had been the culprit, suggesting his co-accused was to blame.

There was nothing sophisticated about the break-in, he said, and, in fact, it had been crudely executed.  Within minutes of the alarm being raised both men were found by the Gardaí on the steps of the church with food and blankets around them, he added.

“They had effectively bedded down with the Edam cheese and beetroot and blankets,” counsel observed.

He said his client had never meaningfully addressed his alcohol addiction but was now on a waiting list to see a counsellor while in prison.

Sergeant Cloonan confirmed O’Brien had been out on bail on other matters when this offence was committed.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan agreed O’Brien’s appalling list of previous convictions “all boiled down to his alcohol addiction.”

He said the most aggravating factor was the length of time the men stayed in the room next-door to the woman’s bedroom knowing she was there and during that terrifying time she had no idea what was going to happen to her.

He said the accused was entitled to “serious credit” for entering an early plea, but there had to be an element of deterrent in sentencing when it came to burglary of people’s homes.

He set the headline sentence at five-and-a-half years, which he reduced to three-and-a-half years for the early plea.

In mitigation, he said O’Brien was sorry and according to a medical report handed into court, there was potential for him to rehabilitate.

The judge said he would incentivise that rehabilitation by suspending the final 18 months of the sentence, leaving a net two-year sentence to be served – to act as both a deterrent and a punishment for what he did to the woman.

The 18 months was suspended for two years on condition O’Brien keep the peace, come under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months on his release, remain sober and submit to random toxicology screening by the probation service.

Photo: Defendants were arrested on the steps of Claddagh church.

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