A man described as “a dealer, thief, or fence” in court this week (February 20 ) who was asked if he “had any hope in your life”, avoided another jail sentence when the judge heard he had an appointment for a rehab unit the following day.
Before the court was Eoin Dowling (29 ) of Parnell Square, Athlone, who was pleading guilty to four counts of handling stolen goods, some of which he had committed whilst on bail for previous offences.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell told how Dowling was caught trying to sell an outboard engine in Glasson village that had been taken from a residence in Clonbrock, Monksland between October 28 and November 4.
He then admitted stealing a lawnmower from a house in West Lodge between October 3 and October 5 which gardaí recovered, and also one worth €400 on August 13 which wasn’t.
The inspector went on to tell the court how gardaí searched Dowling’s girlfriend’s house in Battery Heights on January 13 where they found a number of candles, scales, and crosses stolen from a commercial unit.
“He didn’t say who he got it from [the items from the commercial unit]. He claimed he knew it was concealed in a field,” said the inspector.
“There was a lot of property taken from here [the commercial unit]. An estimated €2,500 worth is still missing, and is still under investigation,” he said.
Dowling had 33 previous convictions, including a 22-month stretch handed down from the Circuit Court in May 2010 for selling heroin to undercover gardaí, of which he served 14 months.
His most recent conviction was on October 3 when he was disqualified from driving for two years for having no insurance.
“He’s only out a number of weeks and he’s caught with no insurance?” noted Judge Seamus Hughes.
His solicitor Mr Padraig Quinn pointed out that Dowling had co-operated with the gardaí, had pleaded guilty “at the earliest opportunity”, and had “made admissions”.
“A young man who has spent a long time in prison obviously stems from a drug habit. Does he intend continuing on as a dealer, thief, or fence?” asked the judge.
Mr Quinn conceded his client was “revisiting the drugs”, and revealed he was facing another dealing charge in March.
However, when the judge heard Dowling had an appointment with Cuan Mhuire the next day he told Mr Quinn: “I won’t send him to jail today. You’re on your last chance”.
“You’ve been an addict for six years. If you continue for another six years you will not be physically strong enough to stand up in court. You’re signing your own death warrant,” said the judge, adjourning the case for a week to see if Dowling is accepted into rehab.