A man who appeared at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court charged under the Theft and Fraud Offences Act received a suspended prison sentence following a hearing into the matter.
Charles Ward, 8 Great Water Street, Longford appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes charged with the theft of jeans and a shirt from Durkin’s, Ballymahon Street, Longford on March 22, 2016.
The defendant was also further charged with engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour on the same date.
In his direct evidence to the court, Garda Egan said that he was on patrol in the Ballymahon Street area of the town on the day of the court sitting when he observed the defendant “shoving a Wrangler shirt under his coat”.
“I got out of the patrol car and chased Mr Ward up the street and when I caught up with him I discovered that he had stolen a shirt and a pair of trousers from Durkin's,” the Garda continued.
The court was then told that the defendant was subsequently arrested and taken to Longford Garda Station where he was later charged in connection with the incident.
The court heard that Mr Ward’s reply after caution was “go f*ck yourself” and “f*ck you pig f*cker”.
“He was abusive and aggressive to Garda O’Donnell,” Garda Egan continued.
“When I tried to arrest him he was also aggressive.”
Addressing Judge Hughes, the defendant said he owed money to a local money lender and as a direct result had been assaulted a number of times.
“I got a loan of €7,000 after the death of my brother to bury him and I am paying it back for the last three years,” the defendant said.
“I was paying €100 p/w back and there was weeks when I didn’t pay anything because I just didn’t have the money.”
When Judge Hughes asked Mr Ward why he had not gone to the Gardaí about the situation, the defendant replied, “I was told that if I did go to the Guards, me and my family would suffer”.
The court also heard that the defendant was on a methadone programme having been a heroin addict in the past.
Garda Egan then confirmed to the court that Mr Ward had indeed been assaulted and Superintendent Fergus Treanor told Judge Hughes that he was certain that Mr Ward’s claims were true.
“Money lending is going on behind closed doors here in Longford,” continued the Superintendent.
“We certainly do intend to investigate the matter; in fact I would be obliged to find out who exactly is behind money laundering schemes in this town.”
Addressing the defendant Judge Hughes advised Mr Ward to speak directly to the Superintendent about his predicament.
“You need to speak confidentially about all this to the Superintendent,” added the Judge, before pointing out that the court was very concerned about “subcultures and assaults that take place”.
In mitigation, the defendant’s solicitor Frank Gearty said his client hadn’t committed an offence in two years, despite the fact that the court had just been told that Mr Ward held 110 previous convictions.
“In the context of these 110 previous convictions, that is very significant in terms of what is going on for him,” Mr Gearty added.
Judge Hughes subsequently imposed a two month prison sentence which he suspended for three years. Mr Ward was also fined €200 in respect of the matter before the court.
Again, before concluding matters, the Judge strongly advised Mr Ward to speak to Superintendent Treanor in confidence about the matters the he had brought to the court’s attention.