Tuesday 16 January 2018

Opera House thief used up his last chance

THE ink was 'hardly dry' on a court bond when a defendant was out committing offences again, the Gorey District Court judge Gerard Haughton commented last week.

Already serving a sentence for another offence, Paddy Connors (33) of 2 Rose Cottage in Drinagh entered guilty pleas to a series of fresh charges at the District Court sitting in Ardcavan last week. He admitted counts of theft, trespass and burglary, committed on various dates during February.

He was responsible for a burglary at the National Opera House after which €820 worth of mobile phones and cash was never recovered. The same man was found with a torch and a pair of wire cutters searching through a skip in the yard of Wexford Farmers' Coop in Parnell Street.

Around the same time, he was also spotted on a property in South Main Street with no valid reason and a member of the public alerted gardaí when Connors was noted searching through the garden of a vacant dwelling.

With the help of CCTV, he was further identified as one of two intruders filmed looking around where the metals are kept at the Sulzer plant in Whitemill industrial estate.

Judge Haughton learned that the accused had 169 previous convictions on a record that showed many counts of theft.

In February, a burglary prompted the judge in Circuit Court to record a suspended sentence of ten months.

Judge Haughton said the question of whether the suspended sentence should be activated must be dealt with first, and adjourned the matter overnight to the Gorey sitting of the court on May 6.

In Gorey Court the following day, Connors' solicitor Tim Cummings said his client had a chronic heroin addiction. 'These are not the most sophisticated of crimes,' he said. 'He steals, he buys heroin, he steals, he buys heroin. That's the pattern.'

Paddy Connors told the court he is on a methadone programme in prison. He had gone on a substance misuse programme but didn't give it a chance to work, and ended up on heroin and methadone.

The past two-and-a-half months helped him realise all his problems were around drugs, he said, adding that he now has a little boy whom he has only seen three times in the past three months.

'I know it's my fault but it's hurtful,' he said. 'I don't want to spend the rest of my life on drugs. I want to be there for my little boy and my wife.' He said he didn't want the same life for his boy.

He said he's also attending an anger management course and schooling in prison. 'I'm asking for some light at the end of the tunnel,' he said. 'I never had the responsibility of being a father when I got out before.'

He is due for release on September 17 next.

Judge Haughton said he was told virtually the same thing by the defendant before. 'I gave him one final chance,' he commented, explaining he had previously given the defendant a ten month suspended sentence, with an order to get residential treatment for his addiction problems.

'It was effectively a last chance,' he continued. 'The ink was hardly dry on his signature on that bond when he was out committing the same offences again.

'He got one last chance and it made no difference.'

He imposed the ten month sentence on Paddy Connors, but made it effective from January 8 last.

Looking at the fresh charges, including the theft from the Opera House, he imposed a further eight month sentence, to commence on the termination of the ten months previously imposed.

Wexford People

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