A district court judge told a persistent burglar, with 95 previous convictions, to get a job and live in the real world, before imposing the maximum sentence of 22 months for stealing more than €2,000 in cash during a series of burglaries committed over the course of four months this year.
Judge Mary Fahy made the comment after hearing evidence in the case of Francis ‘Frankie’ McDonagh of 19 Sliabh Rua, Ballybane, who appeared at Galway District Court on Monday where he entered a plea of guilty to a charge of criminal damage, obstruction, theft, and six counts of burglary.
Inspector Ernie Whyte told the court that on July 22, at 8pm McDonagh stole a handbag from a car parked at the Claddagh church. He was arrested shortly after and the bag was recovered. On June 20 at 7.45pm McDonagh went into the staff changing room at McSwiggins pub in Eyre Street, Woodquay, where he stole a Samsung mobile phone and €70 in cash. On June 16 at 1.30pm the defendant went to Lucaffe at Eyre Square Shopping Centre where he stole €30 in coins and three bottles of Coke. The incident was captured on CCTV. The defendant and an accomplice entered Newstand in Middle Street on June 4 at 7.20pm and stole €200 cash from the till. Inspector Whyte added that only €70 of this was recovered.
The court heard that on May 10 at 4.30pm McDonagh went into Harry Corry at Galway Retail Park, Headford Road, and entered the restricted staff area where he stole €770 in cash from a cash box and left the scene, however, he was identified on CCTV. On the same day and around the same time, McDonagh also entered Pound World at Galway Shopping Centre and went behind the till area where he took €30 in cash. He returned a short time later and atttempted to take notes from the till but was confronted by staff.
Inspector Whyte said that on April 21 at 8pm, Mocha Beans at Ceannt Station had been closed, however, McDonagh managed to gain entry and went behind the counter where he found keys to the safe and stole €990 in cash. McDonagh was seen attempting to break the lock from a bicycle in the car park at Argos, Headford Road, on March 29 at around 6pm by an off-duty garda. When the garda went to make an arrest McDonagh resisted but the garda managed to hold onto him until assistance arrived. The inspector added that the defendant has 95 previous convictions which include jail sentences for trespassing, theft, burglary, and robbery.
Defence solicitor Alma Whelan said that all the offences were opportunistic and that her client has serious alcohol and heroin addictions. She added that the only explanation McDonagh can give is that it is related to his drug issues, which he is anxious to deal with. Ms Whelan then urged Judge Fahy to consider suspending part of the custodial sentence.
Judge Fahy replied that McDonagh had been on bail and that it was revoked because of reoffending. She said: “His reoffending has impacted on a lot of people. A lot of these businesses would probably employ young people who are trying to earn money and go to college, and he goes in and takes their money and phones.
“He went into areas he shouldn’t have been and took from people probably earning the minimum wage. This man who has not done a tap of work in his life takes this money from those people,” said Judge Fahy, who addressing McDonagh directly added: “If you are fond of money I suggest you go out and find a job and live in the real world.”
McDonagh was then convicted and sentenced to a total of 22 months in jail, the maximum sentence that can be imposed at district court level. Regarding Ms Whelan’s request to suspend part of the sentence, Judge Fahy said: “I considered suspending but due to his continuation and persistance of offending I can’t”.