A man who, while intoxicated, stole a nine carat gold college ring from a Ballina jewellers was before Ballina District Court on Tuesday.
On May 2 2008 at 11.30am, Garda Gerard Taheny received a call from Gold Time Jewellers, O’Rahilly Street, Ballina, that a €363 ring had been stolen from the store.
Store assistant Patricia Garrett told the court that three people entered the store and one of them, whom she described as a drunk man, asked her if she could fix a ring, to which she said she could. The two other people asked if they could see a ring in the cabinet and after they handed Ms Garrett the ring back, the drunk man leaned across her and took a ring from a display pad in the cabinet.
Ms Garrett asked the man if he had taken a ring to which he replied that he had not, and she asked the three people to remain in the store while she called the store owner, however they left.
CCTV footage was viewed and the garda recognised the suspect as Tommy McEllan, 89 Barnaderg, Ballina, who at 11.45am was observed by Garda Taheny in an intoxicated state and covered in blood. McEllan was arrested for being intoxicated in a public place.
Garda Taheny said that from the CCTV footage he could see that the defendant had placed something in his mouth which was discarded to the floor — the price tag of the ring was discovered on the floor by the garda.
On May 22 the defendant was arrested for the theft, but he denied being in the store. McEllan agreed to provide mouth swabs which were sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis. The DNA from the swab and the price tag matched.
Solicitor John Gordon had initially contested the charge on behalf of his client, however he received instructions during court proceedings that his client would now plead guilty to the charge.
McEllan, who has previous convictions, told the court that he was drinking heavily at the time of the incident as his father had just passed away and that he does not know where the ring is now.
The defendant told Judge Mary Devins that he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and depression but now wants to be a “role model” for his new son and has started computer classes and registered with FÁS.
Judge Devins adjourned sentencing to November 10, with compensation for the ring to be paid, and gave the prosecution liberty to re-enter at 24 hours notice.