A man who stole the takings from the Candelabra at St Mary’s Church in Granard last September was sentenced to six months in jail following a hearing into the matter at last week’s sitting of Longford District Court.
Bernard McDonagh (44), 21 Ard na Cuain, Dromod, Co Leitrim appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes charged with committing theft at St Mary’s Church, Granard on September 8, 2016.
Outlining the evidence to the court, Inspector Declan Rock said that on the date in question, the defendant entered the church and stole €100 from the Candelabra.
In mitigation, the defendant’s solicitor, Frank Gearty pointed out to the court that his client accepted what he did was wrong, and was hoping that Judge Hughes would allow him an opportunity to come up with the money he took.
Mr Gearty also said that his client was suffering from depression.
“He has had lots of time, Mr Gearty, to have the money here today,” fumed Judge Hughes, before indicating that he would not allow the defendant any leniency.
“This is a man who will break into anything and take anything he likes,” continued the Judge.
“You can’t expect me to have sympathy for a man who breaks into a church.”
Providing direct evidence to the court, the defendant said that he was separated from his wife and the couple had six children.
Those children, the court was told, were currently in care.
“I’m battling an alcohol problem,” added Mr McDonagh.
“I wrote to the priest afterwards and apologised to him for breaking into the church and stealing the money.
“I am sincerely sorry for doing wrong.”
During his deliberations on the matter, Judge Hughes said that he had absolutely no sympathy for Mr McDonagh.
“There is an epidemic of crime against churches in this local area,” he added.
“I must admit that it is very touching when you read in the local papers about a priest entering his church to discover a crime has taken place.
“This man should be behind bars to protect society.
“You, Mr McDonagh are a freeloader - that is what you are and really the less said now the less mended.”
The Judge subsequently handed down a six month prison sentence before bringing matters to a conclusion.