Court allows latitude as dognapper shows improvement

A man accused of a raft of thefts across Athlone - including that of a family pet - had sentencing adjourned until April to allow the probation services prepare a final report on his continuing rehabilitation.

Before the court on Wednesday (January 8 ) was Stephen Malone (19 ), formerly of McCormack Park, Athlone, but now with an address c/o the Simon Community.

Judge Seamus Hughes recalled that on Malone’s last court appearance on December 18 he presented in such an agitated state that the judge feared for his psychiatric health.

However, this week Malone appeared much more content, a condition the judge acknowledged was reflected in the updated report he was handed from the probation officer, Ciaran Connolly.

Malone was accompanied by the manager of the Midland Simon Community’s emergency accommodation, Emma Mannion, whom Judge Hughes singled out for praise on account of her charge’s improved demeanour.

“How are you?” asked the judge.

“Grand,” replied Malone.

“Are you going to remain grand?” enquired the judge.

“Yeah,” replied Malone.

“Step out of line, or associate with your old friends, and I’ll hand down the maximum sentence. Stay off drugs,” warned Judge Hughes.

Mr Connolly from the Welfare and Probation Service told the court his office had requested a psychiatric report on the defendant and that this would take about three months to complete.

Judge Hughes accepted this line of approach, saying: “This court is not in any rush to finalise matters. Mr Malone seems to be taking positive steps”.

“If you pull your weight you will get the full support of this court,” said the judge as he remanded Malone on continuing bail until April 4 to await a psychiatric report and an updated report from the probation services.

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