Man jailed for theft of €23,000 from car and dental spa robbery

I feel almost guilty for leniency shown, says judge

A Ballybane man who stole €23,000 from the glove box of a local businessman’s car and attempted to steal the cash box from a city centre dental clinic has been jailed for six months.

Before sentencing Judge Mary Fahy said that she “almost felt guilty” for having given Patrick Sweeney so much leniency in the past as, not long after receiving a community service order, the 21-year-old was out committing a similar crime.

Sweeney, of 34 Glenbaun, Ballybane, appeared at Galway District Court last Monday where he pleaded guilty to stealing cash valued at €23,000 at Bohermore on November 21 2007, and to entering Smiles Dental Spa at 21 Middle Street, Galway as a trespasser with the intent to commit robbery on March 28, 2008.

Regarding the most recent incident Inspector Michael Coppinger told the court that at 2.25pm the defendant entered Smiles Dental Spa, went behind the reception area, and tried to take the cash box. However, a staff member confronted him and bravely held on to the cash box until the Gardai arrived.

Garda Adrian McWalter gave evidence that a car, owned by a local businessman, had been parked in the Grealishtown area of Bohermore on November 21, 2007, and there had been a “substantial amount of cash left in the glove box”. CCTV footage showed Sweeney enter the unlocked car and take three envelopes containing the cash. The owner’s attention was drawn by a passing taxi driver who alerted him to the incident. The court then heard that most of the money was recovered and that the defendant has 21 previous convictions which include theft in January 2008.

Defence solicitor Sarah O’Dowd said that her client committed the crime to feed his drug habit and that he had been on a waiting list for addiction counselling since the start of December last.

“He has done several community service orders. One of those was for a large amount of cash that was stolen. He must not be able to pass any car without checking it.

“This court bent over backwards to keep him out of custody. He did community service order and then re-offended. I feel almost guilty myself that I gave him so much leniency. He became more adventurous by going behind the counter,” said Judge Fahy.

“He did remain at the scene until the Gardai arrived,” replied Ms O’Dowd.

“Did he have much choice? You didn’t get your teeth whitened while you were there?” Judge Fahy asked the defendant, before adding that he wouldn’t have got far as he is well known to the Gardai in Galway.

For the theft of €23,000 from the car Sweeney was convicted and sentenced to four months. A further two months was added to the sentence for the incident at Smiles Dental Spa. Leave to appeal was granted.


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