Judge runs out of patience with repeat offender

Judge Gerard Haughton finally ran out of patience at Gorey District Court last Wednesday, with repeat offender Thomas Kelly of 9 Stream Street, Taghmon, saying he had been given enough chances, and sentenced him to prison for nine months.

He heard the case in Wexford the previous day and considered it overnight before handing down the sentence.

The charges listed against the father of three included: criminal damage totalling €220 to Mary McGee's premises in Taghmon and possession of cannabis on March 2, 2014; entering Taghmon family resource centre as a trespasser on September 14, 2014, taking €298 worth of property, and committing €1,000 worth of criminal damage; entering a private house at St John's Road in Wexford on April 18, 2015, and taking a handbag worth €220; stealing 20 bottles of Budweiser from Dunnes Stores on May 5, 2015; stealing 20 bottles of Budweiser from Lidl on the same date; trying to persuade officials at An Post on May 20, 2015 that someone else had drawn down his social welfare. This was a fraudulent claim; drunk in public on September 30, 2015; theft from a neighbour in Stream Street of a bottle of gas in a back garden on April 19, 2016; theft of 24 cans of Bud and a box of Bulmers from Tesco on April 10, 2017; and attempting to take a JCB and a tractor on April 13, 2017.

Judge Haughton noted that there were issues set out in a psychological report that were quite relevant, but he pointed out that there were offences dating back to August 2013.

He commented that 'huge resources' had been put in to help the defendant try to sort his difficulties with drugs and alcohol, and that he had been given numerous chances. Despite this, he continued to offend.

'In his four years before the court, we've repeatedly got him help, and he continues not to take it,' he said. 'There comes a time when I have to call a halt.'

He pointed to the most recent case where he attempted to take a JCB and tractor while drunk, and feared what the consequences would have been if he got onto the public road. 'My only choice is to impose a sentence,' he stated. 'He will have to resign himself to spending most of his life in prison, or turning his life around.'

For the JCB and tractor offences, he gave him two nine month prison sentence, both backdated to May 14 when he was detained in custody, and banned him from driving for five years. For the burglary on April 18, 2015, he gave him six months in prison, backdated to May 14, and six months for another burglary, also backdated. All other charges were taken into consideration.

The judge said he wasn't making the sentences consecutive because of the contents of the reports, but otherwise he would have done so. 'It's unfortunate that the work that was put into Mr Kelly didn't work out. Huge resources were put in but at some stage, I have to call a halt,' he commented.

Wexford People