Sunday 25 August 2019

Thief took scaffolding from 'ghost estate'


A MAN who said he took scaffolding from a 'ghost estate' in Rosslare because he believed NAMA would level the site in a few months anyway was ordered to pay €1,000 in fines when he appeared at Wexford District Court last week.

David Whelan, Ballinastraw, Glenbrien, was fined €500 for having possession of a con-saw and a hammer, and a further €500 for stealing €600 worth of scaffolding from PJ Farrell. He was also disqualified from driving for one year by Judge Donnchadh O Buachalla. A further charge relating to an alleged drink driving incident has been adjourned until February 7.

Solicitor for the defendant, Michael O'Neill, claimed his client was a ' hard-working' individual who was a victim of the recession and who is owed €15,000 for jobs he had done. However, gardaí claimed that the defendant had been deliberately reluctant in giving them information, and was unco-operative with their investigation.

The defendant has 17 previous convictions, some of which date back 20 years, including one for grevious bodily harm. The court was told that none of the defendant's previous convictions related to theft of any kind.

The court heard that on November 20 last at Barr na Haille, Rosslare Habour, at 3.40 p.m., the defendant was arrested for theft of scaffolding from a building site. He was with two other men, who have not been charged.

The defendant initially told gardaí that he had permission from an individual called Jim O'Neill to take the scaffolding, which he maintained was being allowed ' to rot' on the ground. Gardaí later discovered that the defendant had been to the site some days earlier, and was told by a neighbour of the site to move on.

The defendant had planned to take the scaffolding and sell it as scrap in Enniscorthy. The materials belonged to Mr P. J. Farrell. His solicitor told the court that the items were on ' a derelict ghost estate' which he felt would be taken over by NAMA. 'He himself is a victim on the recession, and the items were lying on the ground rotting away,' he said.

Prosecuting gardaí noted, however, that the defendant had with him a con-saw and a lump hammer to help him remove the items.

In his own defence, the defendant said: 'Anything I took was rotting on the ground. Within the next six months that site will be levelled.'

The court heard that the defendant had also given gardaí an address in Drumcondra, where he used to live, even though his current address is in the Enniscorthy area. When his solicitor suggested to Judge O Buachalla that the Probation Act might be applied, the judge said there was ' no question of the Probation Act'.

'It's a question of whether or not he will go into custody,' warned the judge.

The judge added that the defendant had ' concocted' stories for the gardaí. 'He is a menace to the people in that area, after being told to stay away,' he said. ' He has no bona fides in this court whatsoever,' he added.

Recognisances were fixed for the event of an appeal.

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