A youth described in court as “a little Fagin”, who acted as lookout for a Dublin gang that stole four cars in a night in Athlone by fishing through letterboxes for keys, was jailed this week (March 27 ) for an additional year.
“Your client is such a fool and an idiot of the highest order, and he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison if he continues to protect these kingpins,” said Judge Seamus Hughes to Mr Robert Kelly, solicitor for Alan Melia (18 ), from Cherry Orchard Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin 22.
Smiling throughout the case, Melia refused all offers from the bench to avoid a bigger sentence if he named “the bigger criminals involved”, thus drawing the judge’s ire.
Earlier, Detective Garda Padraig Hession told the court how four cars had been stolen from the Monksfield, Millrace, and Waterville estates in Athlone on the night of January 6-7.
“The defendant says he was just the lookout. Our investigation believe there were at least three others involved,” said Det Garda Hession.
He told the judge that in the Monksfield case, the front door of the house had been forced while the couple were out for the night, but that at the other two addresses: “They fished the keys out the letterbox”.
He explained how the gang had then gone to Kilmartin’s filling station on the Dublin Road, and driven off after filling with €74 worth of petrol, and that Melia was identified on CCTV when he did the very same thing for €50 worth 10 days later at the same garage.
Garda Hession said how Melia had 36 previous convictions, “mostly for burglary and UTs [unauthorised taking - of cars]”, and that three of the four vehicles had been recovered.
The defendant appeared in court from custody in Portlaoise Prison where he was serving three separate sentences handed down already this month from Naas Circuit Court, Smithfield Children’s Court, and Cloverhill District Court, totalling two years.
Judge Hughes was curious why the teenager was serving his sentence in “the hardest prison in the land”, and was told by the grinning defendant that it was “punishment for picking up drugs in the yard in Pats”.
“So you collected the tennis ball. For who?” asked Judge Hughes, referring to the most popular method of prison drug delivery.
“I’ve nothin’ to say,” said Melia.
“Your client is a little Fagin, working for bigger criminals involved in robberies or more serious crimes,” fumed Judge Hughes to Mr Kelly.
The court then heard how Melia left school at 12, but came from a good home where both parents worked, and none of his five siblings were ever in trouble with the law.
In an ironic twist, Mr Kelly told how Melia’s father had an oil delivery business and had a contract to supply Irish prisons.
Unimpressed, Judge Hughes sentenced Melia to a total of 12 months, which he ordered run consecutively from the sentence handed down to him on March 8.