Longford teen on theft charges told to gather compensation

A judge has told a teenager accused of carrying out a series of thefts in north Longford to recompense the victims of his crimes or run the risk of a prison sentence.

Corey Leonard (18), of Esker Hill, Longford, pleaded guilty to the charges which were heard on Friday last before Judge Seamus Hughes at Longford District Court.

Sgt Tom Quinn gave evidence of each of the alleged incidents, the majority of which involved the theft of battery diggers taken from various building sites and farmland between March 31 and the beginning of this month.

The charges included alleged thefts at Townagh and Aughadowry in Ballinamuck, Esker in Ballinalee and at Lettergullion, Drumlish.

In most instances, he said, the batteries taken were valued at €200 resulting in an overall sum of €1,050 having been reported missing by various injured parties.

Sgt Quinn also gave details of how Mr Leonard had similarly been charged with trespassing on the grounds of Fr Manning Gaels in Drumlish on April 30 2018.

He said entry to the property was gained via a rear door before CCTV footage taken from the scene allegedly showed Mr Leonard making off with a sledgehammer, valued at €50.

Sgt Quinn added it was during one of the theft related incidents before the court that the accused had been disturbed, forcing him to leave the scene empty handed.

A resulting chase, involving a witness ensued and which led to a number of alleged dangerous driving incidents.

He said Mr Leonard, together with a co accused, was arrested last Wednesday where certain admissions in relation to the charges before the court were made.

Sgt Quinn said he had been informed that Mr Leonard's father had "gone to great lengths" to seek out employment for his son, efforts which had culminated in the 18-year-old securing a job in Dublin in the construction trade.

The sergeant said it was his belief the events of the past week had had a certain "awakening" effect on Mr Leonard.

Asked by Judge Hughes what caused him to resort to stealing, Mr Leonard said the batteries were taken with a view to being sold on for scrap.

In defence, solicitor Frank Gearty assured the court that Mr Leonard would be mixing with associates of his father when he starts work on Monday and not the circles he had been socialising with up until his arrest last week.

Sgt Quinn backed up that standpoint, describing the teenager's father as a "hardworking man".

Judge Hughes said he would be willing to afford Mr Leonard an opportunity to make good his wrongdoings provided the necessary compensation was given to the court.

"There is a very strong possibility you will get one chance for what was a very serious criminal escapade, but it's up to you," he told Mr Leonard.

Judge Hughes also agreed to relax Mr Leonard's bail conditions which previously had been required the teenager to sign on three times a week at Granard Garda Station.

Due to his new found employment, this was reduced to once a week and on a Saturday in order to allow Mr Leonard return home.

Two charges of dangerous driving levelled against Mr Leonard, were withdrawn by the State.The case was subsequently adjourned until October 19.

A file, in relation to a co accused, is currently being readied for the Gardaí's Youth Diversion Office.

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