Retired Garda jailed for year

Published 14/05/2016 | 00:00

John Joe Sinnott.
John Joe Sinnott.

RETIRED GARDA John Joe Sinnott, who was found guilty of possession of a stolen vehicle following a recent trial, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, with the final six months suspended.

The Jury at Carlow Circuit Criminal Court had found Sinnott, of Camblin Hill, New Ross, guilty of having possession of a stolen vehicle or being reckless as to whether it was stolen, between December 25, 2007, and March 5, 2008. He was found not guilty of a charge of using a Peugeot 206 without consent of owner Laurent Sila at Rosslare Harbour, on February 16, 2008.

During the course of his evidence, Sinnott told the jury that on the day in question he brought now retired Garda Inspector Michael Walsh and New Ross diviner, Patrick O'Brien, to several locations in South Wexford to carry out searches for missing person Fiona Sinnott.

Det Garda Alan Byrne outlined to Judge Alice Doyle at the sentencing hearing that evidence had been given of a UK registered vehicle being examined in the car park of the Hillside Bar at Camblin, New Ross, on March 5, 2008. Publican John Hanton stated the car had been parked by a foreign national who lived in Kilkenny and left there for a number of months. He had been asked by John Joe Sinnott if it was alright for the vehicle to be parked there.

Det Byrne also said that Det Garda Eugene O'Sullivan, who is attached to the Stolen Vehicles Squad, gave evidence of having examined the vehicle at New Ross Garda Station. He said the chassis numbers in various locations on the car had been scratched or removed.

Following an examination of the chassis number in the boot, he was able to establish the original number. He said whoever had the car was trying to disguise the fact it was stolen.

During the trial, Mr Conor O'Doherty, for the prosecution, read Laurent Silva's statement into evidence, which stated: 'I bought a black Peugeot car back in 2003. On the morning I went outside and searched for the car but could not find it. I was later shown the car at New Ross Garda Station by Det. Alan Byrne. It was my car. When the car was stolen I had both keys with me. I did not give anyone permission to take my car.'

Det Byrne said that Sinnott had outlined details regarding the searches for Fiona Sinnott with diviner Patrick O'Brien and Inspector Michael Walsh. He (Sinnott) said that at one stage O'Brien spoke quite a lot and intimated something dreadful had happened in a field, after which they drove through Bridgetown in South Wexford to Kildavin cemetery. O'Brien identified one grave where he said Fiona Sinnott's remains could have been buried.

The defendant told Prosecuting Counsel, Conor O'Doherty, that he would never have looked at the chassis numbers on the car. Regarding the fact that he came to drive the car the defendant said to Mr. O'Doherty that the owner had spoken to him and said the keys were on the wheel if he needed to use it.

Defence Counsel, John O'Kelly said that the defendant had retired in 2009. Mr. O'Kelly said that the defendant had no idea the car was stolen on February 16 when they carried out the searches for Fiona Sinnott. He had been told by the owner that the keys were under wheel and he could use the car whenever required.

In passing sentence Judge Doyle said he was no ordinary witness for he was a garda at the time. She sentenced him to 18 months in prison with the final six months suspended.

Wexford People

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