Galway man jailed for ‘professional’ job on filling station

A Galway man who took part in a “professional” burglary in which €34,000 worth of cigarettes and cash was taken has been jailed for four years with the final three suspended.

The Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard last Tuesday how Hughie Guinan (34 ) with an address at 31 Coillte Mhuirlinne, Ballybane, used his local knowledge to pinpoint a Derrydonnell filling station, on the main Galway to Dublin road, as the target for the burglary which involved the cutting of CCTV and alarm wires and breaking open the safe with a power saw.

Detective Paul Keane told the court that on February 13, 2009, a member of staff went to open up the premises and discovered that a burglary had taken place during the night. Gardai found that the rear door had been forced off its hinges and approximately €20,000 worth of cigarettes and €14,000 cash had been taken.

A warrant was obtained and gardai searched a house, a short distance away, on the evening of February 13. They found €2,500 of cash, and “almost all the cigarettes” were recovered. Guinan was arrested and taken to Galway Garda station where he admitted his part in the crime. Det Keane said that approximately €10,000 was still missing.

“This was a very professional job,” noted Judge Raymond Groarke.

“Yes. There would have been an amount of planning. It involved cutting wires and phones lines to disable the CCTV and the alarms,” replied Det Keane, who added that no forensic evidence could be garnered from the scene as the perpetrators had been wearing gloves.

The court heard that access to the filling station was gained through the rear of the premises so that it was unnoticed by traffic on the busy road. The rented house where the accused was found was located just a couple of hundred yards from the scene of the crime, on the Galway side, and this indicated that the filling staiton had been monitored.

The court heard that Guinan, a native of Tonroe, would have been well known to the gardai since his teens but had been out of the country from 2000 to 2007. In England Guinan had been working and did not get into trouble with the law there. Det Keane said that Guinan has a number of previous convictions which includes burglary of a post office for which he received a seven year sentence with the last six suspended.

Det Keane added: “He would have associations with criminal elements in Galway.”

Under cross examination by defence barrister Ms Deirdre Browne, Det Keane said that there were two or three accomplices in the burglary but that Guinan feared repercussions if he named them.

Ms Browne said that her client had a very trouble background, an environment where he got the “tutelage of petty crime”, and had left home when he was just 13 years old. Guinan came back to Ireland in 2003 to participate in a Garda investigation and this resulted in a sibling coming before the courts. Ms Browne then said that this has caused Guinan much “anguish and upset”, he turned to drink, and went off the rails.

After hearing the evidence Judge Groarke commented that Guinan “was the local man, he must have pinpointed the premises... Normally when people get older they go straight but he turned to crime agin. I have been given the evidence that he is associated with criminal types in Galway, that is a source of concern for me.”

Judge Groarke then imposed a term of four years in prison with the final three years suspended on condition that Guinan keep the peace, be of good beheaviour, and not re-offend for three years. He was also ordered to be placed under the supervision of the probation services for 12 months. The sentence was back dated to March 27, 2009.

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