Judge Seamus Hughes has sent out a strong warning to people who arrive in his new district to steal.
“If they come to Longford-Westmeath they’d better not have sticky fingers,” he warned as he jailed two men for stealing a trailer at Ballinalack in May last year.
“People in rural Ireland are finding it hard enough to make a living,” he said, adding that “we can’t afford people leaving Dublin and supplementing their income down here”.
David McDonagh (26 ) Bill Shelly Park, Dunsink Lane, Finglas and Jason McDonagh (21 ) Tooaree, Ballyhaunis were given three month sentences for the offence and Judge Hughes refused to suspend them.
Thomas McDonagh (22 ) from the same Finglas address avoided a prison sentence on the strength of a letter from his parish priest who said he’d suffer extreme difficulty in prison.
“Don’t come before me again on similar charges or I’ll send you away for a long time,” warned the judge as he imposed a maximum 200 hours community service in lieu of a four month sentence.
The court heard how they were seen taking the trailer, valued at €900 and a lawnmower valued at €2,500 and driving in the direction of Mullingar.
They were caught, as Judge Hughes said, “red handed”.
Mr Louis Kiernan, who represented all three men, described the offence as “mean spirited” but said they had brought €300 compensation between them.
Judge Hughes said that people like Jason McDonagh are not welcome in Mullingar.
“If it wasn’t for the diligence and observation of the Gardaí, they would have gotten away,” he observed.