Habit-feeding student thief gets final chance

A student with a heroin habit, who was previously thanked by the court for aiding in translation duties, was told this week (January 4 ) “he can hand in his P45 to his education director” if he comes to Garda notice in the next three months.

Phillip Nalecki (21 ), with an address in Retreat Heights, Athlone, but originally from Poland, was appearing before Judge Seamus Hughes for the third time since pleading guilty on July 20 to four thefts in Moate, Mullingar, and from Dunnes Stores and Tesco in Athlone earlier in the year. On a previous date, Nalecki had aided the judge in translating proceedings for another Polish defendant who had poor English, and had stayed to do so.

However, in court this week, Inspector Aidan Minnock informed the judge that there were now two subsequent theft charges against the defendant. He told how Nalecki had gained access to the Radisson - where he used to work - through a service door, and stolen €50 from the staff lockers on August 8, and had also taken €15 from a wallet on the front seat of an unlocked car in Retreat on December 9.

“On July 20 I indulged this young man. I told him then the Gardaí had leave to re-enter, and he has breached my order three times since,” noted Judge Hughes.

“The last time [December 14] I told him he had run out of road,” said the judge to Nalecki’s solicitor, Mr Mark Cooney.

“He relapsed into heroin abuse, but he assures me he hasn’t gone near it since,” said Mr Cooney. He suggested that Nalecki had kept clean recently on account of the visit of both his parents and his grandmother just before Christmas, and that his client was now on a methadone programme.

“Inspector, what’s your forthright opinion?” Judge Hughes asked Inspector Aidan Minnock.

“I’m very disappointed with this most recent offence, but I would have no objection to a three month adjournment if he got a suspended sentence then,” said Inspector Minnock.

“Oh no. I will give him an alternative to a three-month adjournment, but keep him on a short leash. He will get a taste of Irish prison,” said the judge.

He addressed the defendant: “Mr Nalecki, come back to court again and I won’t even listen to Mr Cooney”.

“If he comes to the notice of the Gardaí again he may hand in his P45 to his educational director,” said Judge Hughes to Mr Cooney. Nalecki is a full-time student at the AIT.

“He’s certainly looking at nine to 12 months’ imprisonment for the totality of offence,” the judge warned.

“If you take as much as a piece of chewing gum from a shop the Gardaí will take you away,” he told Nalecki.

Judge Hughes adjourned a decision until April 4 for an updated probation report, and told Mr Cooney he would adjourn again on that date for a further three months, and would continue to do so until next January when he would then impose a suspended sentence, if Nalecki did not come to Garda attention in each of these periods.


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