Woman who had car stolen was told she could buy it back

A Longford man, who got “caught up with the wrong people” and embroiled in a unscrupulous scam in which calls were made to a woman offering to sell back a car stolen in a burglary, has been given a chance and ordered to carry out community service.

Brendan O’Brien (23 ) with an address at 5 Temple Michael Terrace, Temple Michael, Co Longford, appeared at Galway District Court on Monday where he pleaded guilty to handling stolen property, a car, knowing that it was stolen at Merlin Park on March 15, 2011.

The court heard that on March 8, 2011, a burglary took place at a premises on the Doughiska Road during which a vehicle had been stolen. On March 13 the injured party told gardai that she had been contacted by an unknown male who said he would sell the car back to her for a fee of €2,000. Gardai put an operation in place during which a number of calls were made to the injured party and arrangements were made to meet first at Duggan’s shop in Renmore, then Merlin Park, and then changed to a third location. The defendant was seen acting suspiciously at the final location and he was arrested. The defendant’s house was then searched and a small list with items taken in the burglary was found.

O’Brien admitted to gardai that he had been involved in moving the vehicle for another person but said that he had no part in the actual burglary. The court heard that the car had been a 2011 registration with a value of €10,000 and that there was no damage caused.

Under cross-examination by defence solicitor Adrian MacLynn the investigating garda acknowledged that O’Brien had been sucked in by others and was certainly “not the brains behind it”.

However, Inspector Brendan Carroll interjected stating that O’Brien still had “an important role in this whole operation” in terms of transporting the car. The court then heard that it was unlikely O’Brien had made the call to the injured party, that there were others involved but there was little evidence to prosecute them. The inspector added that O’Brien gave gardai little information to help them in this regard, however it was stated that the other men are from Galway and are known to gardai.

Mr MacLynn explained that O’Brien no longer has any association with these people. The defendant, who has no previous convictions, had been friends with these people at the time but he has since moved away from Galway and is no longer in contact with them. Mr MacLynn added that O’Brien had worked in a garage but became unemployed. He said that O’Brien is now attending an art design course.

When Judge Mary Fahy asked O’Brien why he did what he did he replied: “They were the first people I knew really when I came to Galway... It was a silly mistake. I got caught up with the wrong people.”

“It is a very serious case which would normally carry a jail sentence but the garda seems to think you were sucked in, that you are the fall guy and others got away with it,” said Judge Fahy, who then asked for the defendant to be assessed for his suitability to community service. If found suitable O’Brien is to carry out 240 hours of community service or eight months jail in lieu. As he was driving a car while committing an offence O’Brien was also disqualified from driving for 12 months. O’Brien was then remanded on continuing bail to appear at Galway District Court again on November 26 next for community service report.


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