String of battery thefts culminated in high speed chase, Longford court hears

Judge wants compo money from accused

News Reporter

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Longford Courthouse.

Longford District Court

A Co Longford teenager who, together with two other co accused defendants, carried out a string of thefts across north Longford has been told to return to court in the new year with compensation money.

Corey Leonard (19), of Esker, Longford, appeared at a recent Longford District Court sitting after pleading guilty to six counts of theft and attempted theft charges between April and May of this year.

At the outset of the case, defence solicitor Frank Gearty said his client had previously submitted a guilty plea on May 18 2018 over the alleged incidents which amounted to €1,050 in total.

After handing in that sum, Mr Gearty said: “This was a serious case. There were a series of thefts with other people. He (Mr Leonard) put forward a very good position on May 18 by giving you the most categorical assurances as to the way he had changed his life.”

The court was told nearly all of the incidents involved the targeting of batteries from diggers while a further break-in took place at Fr Manning Gaels GAA grounds.

The first of the incidents Mr Leonard was charged with occurred on a date unknown between March 31 and April 2 at Lettergullion, Drumlish which resulted in the theft of two digger batteries valued at €200.

During the same time period, this time at Aughadowry, Ballinamuck, Longford, where an attempt was made to steal two other digger batteries.

Mr Corey was also charged with the theft of a teleporter battery at Esker, Ballinalee on April 25 2018.

Five days later, the Longford teenager was charged with entering the grounds of Fr Manning Gaels GAA Club as a trespasser under Section 12 of the Criminal Justice (Theft & Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

During the course of that incident, the court heard of how a sledgehammer valued at €50 was taken from the club’s gym.

However, it was during the course of a further attempted theft at a quarry the following week that Mr Corey and two other individuals were spotted by a pair of “quick thinking” neighbours aboard an excavator.

Garda evidence heard how one of the men took a picture of the car Mr Corey and his two fellow assailants had been travelling in while the other approached the trio who were still aboard the excavator.

As the man approached, the court was told that a number of stones were thrown in his direction as all three ran off in different directions across fields.

A car chase consequently ensued which led to a dangerous driving charge also being levelled against the accused.

In the midst of the chase, Judge Hughes was informed that Mr Corey, who was driving the car, forced an oncoming motorist to mount a ditch after driving at speeds of up to 70 m/per hour down a narrow road.

Moments later, the car, which was still being pursued by a member of the public, carried on along a minor road before proceeding straight through a stop sign.

A short distance away, the car stopped with the quick-witted pursuing motorist pulling in behind.

At that point, the court heard details of how the getaway car was suddenly put into reverse, causing the member of the public to also take evasive action by similarly reversing.

It was a manoeuvre which resulted in the man’s vehicle becoming stuck in a drain, allowing Mr Corey to drive off and make good his escape.

The vehicle was later identified thanks to the photographic images which had been taken prior to the chase taking place, Judge Hughes heard.

In defence, Mr Gearty said Mr Corey was very much aware of his culpability and had given a “very full admission” from the off.

In reinforcing the point of Mr Corey’s early plea, Mr Gearty said on his previous court appearance his father was in court where an undertaking was made which involved his client relocating to an apartment in Dublin for work related purposes.

Mr Gearty said it was a pledge which had been followed through on with Mr Corey presently working in the fireproofing industry, endeavours which had brought with it a “very good reference”.

Judge Hughes said he was reluctant to offer any final judgement on the case until he heard from the man who took off in pursuit of Mr Corey.

He also said he would be seeking compensation from the accused, ordering him to save €50 a week from his wages in the interim.

The case was consequently adjourned and is due to return before Judge Hughes on January 22, 2019.