Man stole hire goods worth €35,000 to fund drug debts
A 24 -year-old County Wicklow man who stole machinery in Wexford town to the value of €35,000 was sentenced to eighteen months in prison with the final six months suspended when he appeared before Judge Barry Hickson at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.
Before the court on a plea of guilty was Zach Campbell, of 4 Grattan Park Lower, Greystones, who stole a mini excavator and an Ifor Williams Trailer, the property of Mark Brazzil, Trinity Hire, Wexford, between April 17, 2013, and April 20, 2014.
Detective Garda Dan O'Sullivan told the court that the defendant had pleaded guilty on July 7, 2015 to the theft of the mini excavator on April 17, 2013.
The defendant, he said, had visited Trinity Hire in a van and hired the excavator and trailer for one week, producing a driving licence in the name of John Lawless. Five days later the matter was report to Wexford Garda Station as a theft.
Campbell was identified on CCTV footage as being the driver of the van. He was also identified by Greystones Gardai.
Det. Sullivan said the mini excavator was valued at €30,000 and sold in Limerick for €5,000, while the trailer was valued at €5,000.
The defendant, he said, was later arrested and interviewed at Portlaoise Garda Station. During the interview he did not make any admissions but later in court he entered a guilty plea. He had 44 previous convictions.
Defence Counsel, Seoirse O Dunlaing, told the court that Campbell was arrested on June 6, 2015. He was taken out of prison, where he was serving a sentence for another offence, and interviewed. He was released from that sentence on October 24.
Mr O Dunlaing said that from 16 years up to 22 years of age Campbell had a cocaine habit and, as a result, was under pressure to repay drug debts. It was indicated to him to go and hire the excavator to enable him pay these debts. He later sold the excavator and received a speed boat to the value of €2,500 as part of the deal.
Mr. O Dunlaing said the defendant had €900 in court and it was his intention to pay €5,000 to compensate Mr. Brazzil for the time he was without the machinery.
Prosecuting Counsel, Ms Gleeson, informed the court that the trailer had also been recovered.
In evidence, Zach Campbell, said he was disgusted with himself as it should never have happened. Everything just snowballed, he said.
He told the court he was using cocaine three to four times a week since he was sixteen, but the last time he took drugs was in 2013. He was released from prison on a conspiracy offence on October 23, he said. He is a qualified welder by trade.
Mr. O Dunlaing, for the defendant, accepted there was clear planning in this crime but it was always going to be very easy to catch.
He said Campbell did not gain materially out of his crime as it was committed to discharge a drugs debt. His father and mother are in court to offer their support. He asked that the matter be put back to allow him time to gather the money.
Judge Hickson said he was opposed to putting the matter back as it does not seem he has any tangible way of raising this money. It all seems very aspirational, said the Judge.
A lot of planning had gone into this. Campbell had produced a fake driving licence and a fake utility bill and had also organised some place to store the excavator and trailer for some weeks. It was a straightforward crime.
Judge Hickson said he would sentence the defendant to eighteen months in prison, with the final six months suspended.
Pleading with Judge Hickson, Zach Campbell said he had seen the inside and did not want to go back.
'If given a chance I will never be seen in court again. I am a changed man now. I am begging for mercy,' he added.
Judge Hickson told the defendant he was not for changing his mind.