Boxer thief pulls knife on pursuers, court hears

A man who stole Calvin Klein boxers and then pulled a knife on the shop staff who pursued him has been sentenced to four years with the final two and half years suspended.

The Galway Circuit Court heard last Tuesday how Alan Stephens had been unlawfully at large at the time of the incident and was supposed to be serving an eight year sentence for manslaughter.

The 31-year-old with an address given as 2 Hymany Park, Ballinasloe, is charged with stealing three pairs of Calvin Klein boxer briefs, valued at €90, from Debenhams, Eyre Street, and having in his possession a knife intended to incapacitate or intimidate a person in evading lawful arrest.

Sgt Larry Duggan said that on April 4, 2009 at 4.50pm the accused entered Debenhams, stole three pairs of boxer briefs, and left without paying. He was then chased by two members of staff, a manager and a security guard, all the way to Merchants Road where they managed to corner him in an alleyway. However, Stephens then produced a knife and threatened his pursuers who had no choice but to let him go. Stephens did not get far as he was found at Ceannt Station attempting to leave Galway by bus. Sgt Duggan said that the theft was caught on CCTV but Stephens denied being in possession of the knife which was not found on his person.

Sgt Duggan said that Stephens had been living in England at the time of the offence but is a native of Ballinasloe. Stephens has previous convictions which include an eight year sentence for manslaughter imposed in July 2003. The court also heard that Stephens had been unlawfully at large and had been serving a sentence at Castlerea.

Defence barrister Conall MacCarthy told the court that the property had been recovered and that when his client was pursued he did not fully pull out the knife. He said that Stephans had come back to Galway for his brother’s anniversary Mass and had been in the city shopping when “on a whim” he took the items. Mr MacCarthy said that after the arrest Stephens co-operated with gardai. He said that Stephens, who is single with no children, had been living in London for a number of years mainly working in the building trade.

Commenting on the evidence Judge Groarke said that Stephens “did produce a knife causing his pursuers to withdraw”, however, when Stephens was arrested he did co-operate with gardai, put his hands up, and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. Judge Groarke added that an intelligent man like Stephens was well able to achieve and turn his life around, but that if he continued to engage in crime his future would not be too bright.

Judge Groarke then sentenced Stephens to a total of four years with the final two and half years suspended on condition that he enter into a bond for three years to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. Stephens was then warned that if he commits any offence he will serve the remainder of the sentence which was back dated to April 14, 2009.

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