Dognapper ordered to make restitution and atonement

A man described as “the lowest of the low” after he helped steal a dog had his sentencing adjourned to December for a probation report, and was told to “divert your dole into the purchase of a pedigree replacement”.

Before the court was Stephen Malone (20 ), of no fixed abode, but formerly from McCormack Park, Athlone, who faced four counts of burglary, which Inspector Aidan Minnock outlined.

Between March 21-23, he forced a window in Arcadia, kicked in an interior door, and stole a flatscreen TV, and a DVD player worth €500 while the resident was away.

Then, between the days of May 3 and 5, after being told that the occupants were going away, he forced the front door of a house in Brawney Court and took a laptop and phone, worth €700.

On May 27 he went in an unlocked front door in McCormack Park a little after midnight and took two gamestations worth €350.

However, it was his actions on May 5 that caught the court’s attention.

The inspector explained how Malone acted as a lookout for another male who jumped over the wall of a family home in Brawney Square and took a two-year-old Yorkshire terrier, valued at €350, but described by Inspector Minnock as a “family pet”.

Shaking his head, Judge Seamus Hughes said that: “Mr Malone would steal the eye out of your head”.

The inspector told the judge that Malone had 26 previous convictions, and had been given a four-month sentence on May 30.

“While actively involved in crime,” noted the judge.

Malone’s solicitor, Mr Dara Hayden, told the court his client had been released towards the end of August, and was “at a very low ebb, and didn’t trust himself to engage [at the time] with the Probation Service”.

“He was under a lot of pressure, and owed money around the town,” Mr Hayden explained.

“He’s addicted to cannabis and speed, but has spoken to the Probation Service and has been pulling his weight. He’s also removed himself from negative peers, and has moved out of town,” Mr Hayden explained.

Judge Hughes accepted this, but pointed that “if all these matters had been before Judge Kilrane [on May 30] he’d have got a much longer sentence”.

“However, if he stays away from his friends, and gets the highest possible report, I’ll give him a chance. Otherwise all bets are off, and I’m talking about 15 months,” said the judge.

“You are a prolific housebreaker, and you will have to prove to the Garda inspector that you have mended your ways. You go to that address in Willow Park where you get one tenth the value of the goods, and use it for drugs. You even stole a family dog - the lowest of the low,” said the judge.

He said he wanted Malone to meet the family “but that’s only if the family want to sit down with the thief who stole their dog”.

“I want you to divert your dole into the purchase of a pedigree Yorkshire terrier, if they want to go down that route,” said the judge, before remanding Malone on continuing bail until December 18.

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