Judge praises lone garda for apprehension of “fly-by” burglary gang

A garda was congratulated by both the judge and his inspector for his “professionalism and diligence” when the four-man burglary gang he apprehended on a roadside, in the early hours, on his own, was jailed for between four and seven months apiece in the District Court this week (May 27 ).

“It must be a great comfort to the community that a garda can carry out such a very effective surveillance,” said Judge Seamus Hughes in reference to Detective Garda John Quinn’s suspicions and action on the night of May 17-18.

Last week the court heard how Garda Quinn was on duty in the Glasson/Tang area at around 3am on the morning of May 18 when he noticed four men in a car travelling towards Athlone.

After he stopped the car at Cornamaddy and searched it, he found a pair of latex gloves in each door pocket, a pack of five pairs of tights on the back shelf, a five-gallon diesel drum and a length of siphon hose, a screwdriver under the driver’s seat, a key from a Cork hotel, and a stolen copper cylinder.

With no satisfactory answers, Garda Quinn arrested Andrius Jakstas (24 ), Deividas Tuskenis (28 ), Arturas Urbanavicius (28 ), and Regimantas Zaborskas (30 ), all of whom gave addresses in Kauanas, Lithuania. All were charged with handling stolen goods, and possession of house-breaking implements.

“I would have serious misgivings about the tights which’d be used for concealing faces and bringing an element of confrontation to a crime,” said Garda Quinn in court this week.

All four had only just arrived in Ireland, gave different addresses to the hotel and hire car company, and though claiming to be looking for work, could not give a name or number for their contact in this endeavour.

“Is this fly-by robbery, which it seems it is to me? If it is, then they’re in difficulty,” said Judge Hughes last week, before remanding them in custody to allow Gardaí further investigate the four, and to check them through Interpol.

This week in court no further details were forthcoming from the defendants, but Inspector Aidan Minnock was able to provide a list of their previous convictions in both Lithuania and Ireland.

Of the four, only Urbanavicius had a clean record, while the other three all had previous convictions for theft or attempted theft.

Jakstas was the only one with a conviction in Ireland, where he had been sentenced to 11 months in prison in Tullamore District Court on May 14, 2008 for burglary, but allowed to leave on condition he did not return to Ireland for three years.

It was noted in court how he had returned four days after this ban had expired.

As none of the four had the €1,000 suggested as a donation that would have allowed them leave for home on an expulsion order, nor had any of them the wherewithal to raise it from friends or family, Judge Hughes jailed Jakstas for seven months, Tuskenis and Zaborskas for six months, and Urbanavicius for four.

“Garda Quinn’s experience came to be a great help and he should be singularly congratulated for his professionalism and diligence. At a time when 95 per cent of gardaí were on duty in Cork and Dublin [for the royal visit], the Midlands were still covered. And you don’t get to say that often,” said the judge.

Inspector Minnock mirrored these sentiments and “commended Garda Quinn for his detective work”.

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