Laptop thief unlawfully at large because of prison fracas, court hears

Fearful prisoner applies for repatriation to homeland

A 26-year-old laptop thief, who was had been unlawfully at large for six months, has claimed that he was fearful of returning into custody because of a prison fracas between Irish and Eastern European inmates.

The Galway District Court heard that Latvian native Valatiys Matiss had been serving a prison sentence when he became involuntary embroiled in the on-going tensions between other prisoners and has now applied to the Minister of Justice for repatriation to his homeland.

Matiss with an address given as Abbington, Murroe, Limerick, appeared before Judge Mary Fahy on Monday’s sitting where he pleaded guilty to the theft of a laptop worth €499 from Musgraves Cash and Carry, Tuam Road, on January 10, 2011, and was sentenced to serve an extra five months in jail which is to be added to the sentence already being served.

Insepector Mick Coppinger told the court that at 4.40pm, the defendant entered the cash and carry and picked up the laptop and left without paying for it. He was seen by the manager and was caught by gardai on the Tuam Road. The inspector added that Matiss had been “unlawfully at large” at the time of the incident and that he had 26 previous convictions including a three year sentence for drug related offences with a release date in May 2012.

Defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran said that her client had completed a business course and had come to Ireland for employment. She said that Matiss became extremely fearful of the troubles in prison, that he has no family here, and has now applied for repatriation. Ms Corcoran said that her client had been living homeless for the six months, that each day he was unlawfully at large will be added to his sentence, and that he has been back in custody for three weeks.

“Being unlawfully at large was the decision of the defendant. To go in and reoffend is an insult,” replied Judge Fahy.

“There was internal violence [in the prison] and he was genuinely in fear,” said Ms Corcoran who asked Judge Fahy not to add to Matiss’ sentence.

“I am, if I didn’t I should not be here. He is the author of his own misfortune. This was carried out while he was unlawfully at large, that to me is serious,” said a determined Judge Fahy. Leave to appeal was granted.

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