A man convicted of theft from the cars of five TriAthlone competitors nearly four years ago who was subsequently jailed for six months, walked free from the Circuit Court this week (March 5 ) after a judge decreed he should be treated like his co-accused.
“I accept the medical report offers extenuating circumstances. I’m taking into account his guiLty plea, that he co-operated [with gardaí], apologised, and that the €2,000 compensation was ultimately discharged. It appears to me he should’ve been treated in the same way as his co-accused,” said Judge Dearbhla Flanagan, as she reduced the jail sentence to the Probation Act.
Earlier the court had heard how Stephen Furey (22 ), with addresses at Lake Road, Moate, and Retreat Road, Athlone, had, with one other man, broken into five cars belonging to the competitors in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel on the night of July 17-18 in 2009 where they stole iPhones, sat navs, wetsuits, and caused €750 worth of damage.
After failing to raise the €2,000 in compensation in the interim, Furey was convicted on April 25 last, when he was ordered to do 240 hours of community service.
In the ensuing nine months, however, he could only manage four hours of community service despite being given three formal warnings on the issue, and was jailed by Judge Seamus Hughes on January 16.
Appealing the sentence in the Circuit Court this week, Furey’s barrister Ray Groarke Jnr. pointed out that most of the items had been recovered, he had apologised, shown genuine remorse in his Garda interviews, and named his co-accused, all of which Sergeant Cormac Moylan accepted.
Mr Groarke also handed in a medical report which was not available in the District Court in January, which proved Furey’s requirement for surgery precluded him from completing the community service order.
“Ultimately, he paid the money [€2,000 compensation], and I submit it is unfair for my client to be treated harsher than his co-accused,” said Mr Groarke.
He explained how Furey, who was just 19 on the night in question, had between 10 and 15 drinks on the night in question, and was “deeply ashamed and embarrassed”.
“I invite the court to re-visit the conviction order,” Mr Groarke asked, and Judge Flanagan acceded.