Burglar stole to feed gambling addiction

Galway Courthouse

A burglar has been sentenced to twelve months in prison for breaking into several premises around the city, including HSE offices, to feed his gambling and alcohol addictions.

Chris Easywood (42), Ballindooley, Headford Road, appeared in custody before Galway District Court, where he pleaded guilty to twelve burglary charges, and also to forging a GP’s prescription and to having cannabis in his possession.

All of the offences occurred in recent months.

His solicitor, Sean Acton, said he couldn’t say much in mitigation but that his client had suffered a breakdown and had been under the care of the psychiatric services in Galway for a number of years.

Mr Acton said Easywood had a ‘huge’ gambling addiction and that on one occasion when Gardaí called to arrest him they found “an unnatural number of dockets lying everywhere”.

He said his client was born in England and had been a supermarket manager at one point. He was the victim of a serious assault there and after that, his life spiralled out of control and he moved to Galway, where he now lived with an uncle.

Sergeant Richard Owens, prosecuting, said Easywood had broken into HSE offices on Newcastle Road, and other business premises around the city, but he said he had no information on what property was taken during some of the break-ins.

He confirmed Easywood had forged a prescription at a city pharmacy in February and had broken down a door and taken two iPods from a holistic centre in Bohermore in March. He had also broken a window to gain entry to Hotel Home in Barna, in February where he took €250 in cash.

Sgt Owens said Easywood had a jar containing €360 worth of cannabis left on the seat beside him when stopped while driving a car on April 12, 2017, and he had also stolen two bottles of wine from his neighbour’s shop in Ballindooley last August.

Hearing Easywood had 52 previous convictions, including 42 for other thefts, Judge Patrick Durcan said he felt sorry for his difficulties, but business premises had to be protected from people like him.

He imposed sentences totalling twelve months which he backdated to March 15 last, when Easywood first went into custody.