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CCTV on RTÉ’s Crimecall leads to prison for GAA club thief

CCTV footage shown on RTÉ television programme Crimecall led to the identification and successful prosecution of a 22-year-old Galway City man for the theft of equipment from a Conamara GAA club.

Michael Delaney of Bay 3 at Carrowbrowne Halting Site, Headford Road, Galway, and with an address in Thurles, Co Tipperary, was convicted at Derrynea District Court of theft of a Wilks TX750 power-washer worth €600 from Rosmuc GAA.

Delaney, who had 24 previous convictions including for theft, burglary, road traffic and public order offences, had denied the charge and contested the case.

But after viewing video footage of the incident from two separate angles of CCTV cameras at Coiste na Páirce, Gort Mór, Rosmuc, Judge Mary Fahy said the defendant was “very clearly identified” as the thief.

Judge Fahy said it was regrettable, given how clear the CCTV footage was, that Delaney did not plead.

She imposed a six-month prison sentence and two-year driving disqualification because he used his vehicle in the commission of a crime.

Chairman of Rosmuc GAA, Brendan Kinneavy, confirmed the incident was captured on CCTV footage.

At 4pm on November 23, 2020 a man was captured on video using an object – possibly a rock or wrench – to break open the lock of the club’s shed. Minutes later, he was seen removing the power washer from the shed.

Mr Kinneavy confirmed nobody had permission to enter the shed, or to use the tool.

Investigating Garda Aidan Coughlan engaged CCTV expert Mark O’Donnell to download the footage. He said he did not recognise the man in the video but forwarded it to RTÉ’s Crimecall programme.

Thurles-based Garda Robert Donovan saw the programme on March 29, 2021 and recognised the person in the video as Michael Delaney.

He said he had dealings previously with Delaney who lived on-and-off with his wife and father-in-law in Thurles.

Defending solicitor Michael Cunningham put it to Garda Donovan that he was guessing and that he could not have identified his client from the footage because the perpetrator was wearing “nondescript clothing and a baseball cap”.

Garda Donovan said that he recognised Delaney’s distinctive cheekbone and jaw-line, his gait and the way he walked. He also recognised his face from a side-angle on the video.

Judge Mary Fahy then viewed the CCTV for several minutes and agreed Delaney was clearly identified and had a case to answer.

Delaney took the stand and denied the theft. He insisted he was in Thurles with his wife that day, but he conceded when asked by Judge Fahy that he had not offered this as a defence when he was initially questioned by Gardaí.

“I don’t want to be done for something I didn’t do. I’m innocent,” he said.

Delaney who claimed to be ‘very religious’ showed Judge Fahy a tattoo of ‘praying hands’ on the back of his leg. He said the tattoo was done in England for his 21st birthday, in 2019, which pre-dated the offence.

Mr Cunningham said the man caught on CCTV was wearing shorts and did not have a tattoo. But in reply to Judge Fahy, Delaney could not produce proof of when exactly he got the tattoo.

Imposing a six-month prison sentence and two-year driving disqualification, Judge Fahy said: “The defendant’s face is clearly identified. I’ve no doubt it was him”. Judge Fahy described Delaney’s evidence as “at best, totally untruthful”.

She said she hadn’t watched Crimecall in years but praised it for helping to solve crimes including cases more serious than this.

Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal, and Delaney lodged half of his own €800 surety.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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