Chronic wine bottle thief jailed

A Westmeath chronic alcoholic who used up every chance given to him by the court has been jailed for 10 months after continuing to re-offend by nicking bottles of wine from a number of city centre premises and committing public order offences.

Conor Hughes (45 ) with an address given as Fairgreen Hostel was brought before Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to the offences.

Inspector Brendan Carroll told the court that on May 11, 2012, the defendant entered McCambridges in Shop Street and stole a bottle of wine. On the same day at 12pm the defendant entered Daybreak, Dominick Street, where he stole a bottle of wine. He later returned to Daybreak, at 9.15pm and took a second bottle of wine. On May 3 at 4.10pm on Mainguard Street Hughes was found by gardaí to be in such an intoxicated state that it was necessary for him to be arrested for his own safety. The following day, at 11.55am, Hughes again attracted the attention of gardaí as he was trying to gain entry to a shop on Mainguard Street from which he had been previously barred. Hughes became increasingly abusive to gardaí and it was necessary to arrest him.

At midday on April 18 Hughes went into Nestors SuperValu, Fr Griffin Road, where he picked up a bottle of wine and left without paying. The defendant then returned to the same shop at 4.20pm on the same date and took another bottle of wine, and neither wine bottle was recovered. Hughes was also charged with theft at Spar, Mainguard Street, on March 23, two counts of theft at Topaz, Newcastle, on May 2, and theft at Spar, Mainguard Street, on May 3, as well as failing to appear in court on May 9.

Defence solicitor Alma Whelan said that her client had committed all of the offences while extremely intoxicated. She added that Hughes is a chronic alcoholic who has attempted to receive treatment in the past. The court also heard that Hughes has other difficulties including depression and anxiety.

Inspector Carroll then told the court that the defendant has 21 previous convictions including a three month suspended sentence which was imposed in November of last year for public order offences.

“This man is before the court time and time again. I gave him every chance to rehabilitate himself... I have heard it all before. I know custody is not the answer for someone with alcoholic difficulties but what can the court do? He just keeps offending again and again,” said Judge Mary Fahy before reactivating the three months suspended sentence.

Hughes was then convicted in relation to the new offences and sentenced to a further seven months in jail. The sentences were backdated to May 11 and leave to appeal was granted.

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