Longford Circuit Court: Defendant was initially accused in the wrong

Court hears that it was a pity 'real culprit' wasn't facing charges

Longford Leader

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A man who appeared at Longford Circuit Court last week charged in connection with a burglary in Longford town was sentenced to three years in prison which Judge Keenan Johnson subsequently suspended for five years.

Geoffrey McManus, 31 Langan, Cranmore, Sligo appeared before the Judge convicted in the district court of committing burglary and having a knife at 10 Canal Court, Park Road, Longford on July 20, 2015.

State Prosecutor, Mr Shane Geraghty BL said that the case before the court centred around an aggravated burglary at an address in Longford town in July of 2015 in which a mobile phone had been stolen and a knife produced.

The injured party, he added, had gone outside to place rubbish in a bin when she encountered the defendant and another man at the bottom of her garden.

The court heard that the other man had gone into her house and the subsequent prosecution had proceeded on the basis that Mr McManus had in fact been the one to enter the property.

Outlining the evidence to the court in respect of the matter, Garda Anthony Scanlon said that on July 20, 2015 gradaí in Longford town received a report that a male had entered a property in the Park Road area of the town and threatened the occupant.

“The lady had been tending to her garden when the defendant and another man approached her with a bottle [of alcohol],” the Garda added.

“They asked her for a bottle opener and the other man followed her into the house where she gave him a screwdriver and a knife to open the bottle with.

“This man took the knife with him when he left the property.

The court went on to hear then that this man later returned to the house and entered the property with the knife in his possession.

Gardaí later discovered the pair at Longford Railway Station.

“When we arrived at the train station we discovered Mr McManus lying under a parked car, while the other man was in the car park with a bottle of alcohol,” Garda Scanlon continued, before pointing out that the defendant was highly intoxicated at the time and subsequently taken to Longford Garda Station.

“Because he was so drunk, the interview at the station was suspended, but when he was interviewed at a later stage, admissions were made.”

The court also heard that when the defendant was searched by gardaí he was found to be in possession of the stolen mobile phone.

The defendant’s statement to gardaí was then read out in court.

The Judge heard that Mr McManus admitted having the knife to gardaí and felt “ashamed” of the fact that he entered another person’s house with a knife in his possession.

Mr Geraghty BL then pointed out to the court that despite the fact that the defendant had made admissions, it came to light that it was not him that entered the property nor was it he who had the knife, but the other man involved had been the culprit.

“Mr McManus didn’t do any of this; he is an alcoholic, but regarded as a gentleman,” the State prosecutor said.
Meanwhile, the defendant’s barrister told the court that it was now clear that his client never entered the property in Longford town on the date in question.

“The injured party was confused initially by the two men and my client’s admissions were not a true account of his involvement and we know that now,” he added.

“When Mr McManus is drunk he gets into trouble and when he is sober he is a different class of person altogether.”

The court was then told that the defendant had been off alcohol since January of this year and was determined to stay away from it altogether and make a go of his life.

“He has the support and help of his family and is a constant source of support to his own mother,” added defence counsel.

“He works with his father and is somebody who has shown responsibility, particularly with his 10-year-old daughter whom he has regular access to.

“His life has been blighted by drink and alcohol has landed him in all sorts of trouble.”

The court also heard that a recent probation report in respect of the defendant indicated that if the defendant stayed away from alcohol, he could lead a very good life.

“He has been diagnosed with a mental health condition and that too should be factored in when the court is determining sentencing ,” defence council added.

Meanwhile, during his deliberations on the matter, Judge Johnson said that while it was clear that the defendant had been in the company of another party at the time of the incident, it was accepted by the court that Mr McManus was keeping “bad company”.

“I know that he did not enter the injured party’s house and use a knife and it became clear that the admissions made initially by the accussed were inaccurate,” the Judge continued.

“His only fault is that he was in possession of the stolen phone and when you consider how intoxicated the accused was, it is hard to know if he was even aware that he had the phone.

“The main culprit is not before the court and this is a pity because he is guilty of a very serious crime.”

The Judge subsequently imposed a two year prison sentence which he suspended for five years and ordered the defendant to bind himself to the peace and be of good behaviour; agree to supervision by the Probation Services for a period of 12 months; remain drug and alcohol free and pay €3,000 in compensation to the injured party in two instalments of €1,500 next year.