A teenager pleading guilty to four counts of theft was offered a six-month reprieve in court this week (March 12 ), but warned he would go to jail “if he stole as much as a chicken sandwich” in the meantime.
The court heard how Ian Kiernan (19 ) from Clonbrusk, Ballymahon Road, Athlone was caught on camera on three occasions, and by a security guard on another since November.
Inspector Nicholas Farrell read out the details, starting with a jump-over in the AM PM shop in Irishtown at around 6.40pm on November 18 where he managed to take around €40 while the owner was in the rear of the store. Kiernan disputed this and said it was more like a tenner.
“Was he disguised?” asked Judge Seamus Hughes.
“No,” said the inspector.
Just 10 days later Kiernan was identified taking a €10 bottle of wine from Walsh’s on Connaught Street, and on January 12 a chicken baguette worth €3.65 from Dunnes Stores.
“That’s good value, isn’t it?” opined Judge Hughes.
Then on February 15 Kiernan was photographed by a neighbour exiting from a vacant house - an offence committed whilst on bail.
The judge went back to what he deemed the most serious offence - the jump-over at the AM PM - and asked Kiernan what he got for his stolen money.
“It paid for a couple of bags of chips,” said the defendant.
“It could’ve got you more than a couple of bags of chips, it could’ve got you a few months in jail. Did you think of that?” said the judge.
“I was very drunk,” explained Kiernan.
“It was 6.40 in the evening. How are you drunk at this time? You stay up all night watching films, sleep all day, and then get up and go drinking,” said the judge, and the defendant agreed.
“These offences occurred at the top of a slippery slope. He had been estranged from his family, but he’s now back living at home,” said Mr Padraig Quinn, defending.
“I hardly touch alcohol at all now,” said Kiernan.
Inspector Farrell confirmed the youth had no previous convictions, and Ciarán Connolly from the probation service described Kiernan as “quite responsive”.
“We’ll adjourn for six months, but if he offends again all bets are off. Any new offence will involve a short custodial sentence, ie. one month,” said the judge, before adjourning sentencing until September 10 for an updated probation report.
For the interim, he also added a 10pm-8am curfew to Kiernan’s bail conditions.