Car thief had 144 convictions - court hears

A heroin addict with 18 convictions for stealing cars has appeared before Athlone District Court where he pleaded guilty to stealing a car at AIT.

The court heard his MO is to slip into offices and take keys or handbags containing keys, and then use them to find and steal a car.

Michael O’Leary, from St Matthew’s Park in Ballymahon had a total of 150 previous convictions when he appeared before Judge Hughes this week and admitted stealing two sets of keys from AIT on October 29 last year.

Inspector Nicholas Farrell explained how O’Leary couldn’t find the car to match the first set of keys he took that day and so went back and took a handbag and keys.

The car he stole was found crashed and extensively damaged in Dublin two days later.

O’Leary also admitted committing a similar offence when he went into a room used by doctors on their sleeping break at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on April 13.

He took a set of keys, stole the car, and drove it until he was caught in Roscommon on April 24.

He got €40 petrol in a filling station in the county but left without paying and just 40 minutes earlier he stole €20 from the hospital in Roscommon.

He was seen on the roads around Westmeath on April 15 by Garda Lucas, who found him in the car, and followed him in a high speed chase along narrow roads near Castledaly.

However, because there were people on the roads and the garda was concerned about public safety, he abandoned the chase and O’Leary escaped.

He was caught on April 24, asleep in the car at Ballykeeran.

Inspector Farrell outlined the numerous convictions O’Leary has racked up, including 32 for burglary, 45 for theft, 20 for larceny, six for drug possession, four for criminal damage, and 18 for car theft.

O’Leary, who has been in custody on these Athlone charges since April 24, has been remanded in custody back to Castlerea, while investigations continue to see whether there is an active suspended sentence hanging over him from Galway Circuit Court.

He will appear in Athlone District Court again on July 2.

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