A Longford burglar who was chased from a house by its occupants during the early hours of the morning to steal a mobile phone and purse after entering a bedroom as a couple and young child slept, has been sentenced to six months in prison.
John Kelly (32), 3 Cluain Ard, Longford, was handed down the concurrent term by Judge Seamus Hughes last week following three separate theft incidents within the space of six days.
Mr Kelly, was brought before last Tuesday’s District Court where it was revealed he is currently serving a sentence in relation to an unrelated matter.
All three offences took place between May 12 and May 17 last year, the court heard with Mr Mr Kelly being accused of entering two properties in Longford town where alleged thefts occurred.
The first occurred on May 14 where it was disclosed Mr Kelly entered an unoccupied house at 4 St Patrick’s Terrace and stole €250 along with two mobile phones.
Three days later, Sgt Mark Mahon, prosecuting, said a more “serious” break in took place in the Ardnacassa Avenue area of Longford town.
It was there, the court heard, Mr Kelly disturbed a couple and their child who were sleeping after entering a bedroom in the house at around 3am.
Sgt Mahon said Mr Kelly was chased from the house by one of the occupants after stealing a mobile phone and a purse.
He said the pursuit lasted a short distance and no confrontation ensued.
Two days prior to that incident, Sgt Mahon told of how Mr Kelly had also been identified as having stolen €250 from a car which had been parked along Dublin Street in the county town.
Mr Kelly, who stood quietly in the custody suite, acknowledged his role in the incident, saying: “I did (steal it). I am happy to pay it back.”
He told the court the cash had been “sitting up by the gearstick”, prompting Judge Hughes to quip: “You must have thought all your Christmases came together.”
Mr Kelly replied: “It was stupid and I am more clear minded now.”
In defence, solicitor Fiona Baxter said Mr Kelly had written a letter of apology to each of the injured parties in the three incidents before the court.
She also said Mr Kelly had been free from drugs for nine months and had been undergoing rehabilitation in Cuain Mhuire, Ireland’s largest voluntary provider of addiction services.
Those commitments came to a sudden end last year, she added, when the onset of coronavirus put paid to Mr Kelly’s attempts to access the service on a regular basis via public transport.
Ms Baxter said Mr Kelly was also son to his 83-year-old father who was being cared for by his partner while he remained in custody.
The Longford based solicitor referred to Mr Kelly’s children and how in recent months he had re-established a relationship with his 12-year-old daughter.
“You have nine kids?” Judge Hughes remarked as he read a letter handed into court by the accused. “My God.”
It was at that juncture Mr Kelly’s partner addressed the court to state how she vowed to “walk away” from the relationship unless he changed his criminal ways.
“I am living with John’s mother and father,” she said. “My own mother was in hospital for nine months and it’s just too much for me.
“I really need John out (of prison). I have told John he is on his last chance with me. I am trying to do everything and that is why I need John there.”
In mitigation, Ms Baxter said her client’s guilty plea came at the “earliest possible time”, adding Mr Kelly’s partner’s mother was also suffering from ill health at the present time.
Judge Hughes issued a six month concurrent sentence to the existing prison term currently being served by Mr Kelly on all three charges before the court.
It means the 32-year-old will not have to spend any further time in prison once the sentence he is serving comes to an end.
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