Leitrim digger driver brings €3,200 to court to escape conviction

Claire McGovern

Reporter:

Claire McGovern

Leitrim digger driver brings €3,200 to court to escape conviction

A young Manorhamilton digger driver, who came up with a sum of €2,300 for charity, after pleading guilty to stealing a wallet and using credit cards to buy items while on a drinking spree, was given the Probation Act for stealing the wallet, at Sligo District Court.
At an earlier sitting, 22-year-old Stephen Loughlin, Cloonlougher, Manorhamilton pleaded guilty to charges that he stole a wallet and credit cards belonging to another at Kelly’s Bar, Ballygawley on December 7, 2019.
He also pleaded guilty to using a bank card at the Miner’s Bar, at Derrynavogey, Arigna to the value of €22.10 on December 8.
He pleaded guilty to an identical charge that came to €10.
And he pleaded guilty to an identical charge at Applegreen Pearse Road, Sligo to the value of €27 on December 7.
He admitted a similar charge at McDonald’s Carraroe on December 7 to the value of €8.60.
At last week's sitting, defence solicitor Mr Burke said his client had originally come back from England to deal with the case.
He had pleaded guilty to all charges.
The last court ruled that if he came back with €1500, the court would only deal with the theft of the wallet from the bar.
The defendant had since found work in Sligo and had brought the sum of €2,300 to court in the hope the court would deal with the matter other than a conviction.
The solicitor said the offences were totally out of character as the defendant, who has been diagnosed as bi-polar, had been going through a difficult time in his life and was resorting to alcohol and had excluded himself from his family.
He was no longer drinking and was taking his medication.
The young man had aspirations to go to the US or Australia as he is a digger driver.
He had owned up and made an early guilty plea.
The defendant had one previous conviction for no insurance, but he was a young man who would not be before the court again and there was no previous conviction for anything like the matter before the court.
Sergeant Derek Butler told the court the defendant was identified on CCTV at McDonald’s and was arrested on April 15, 2020 and made full admissions.
When Judge Kevin Kilrane asked the defendant for an explanation for stealing the wallet, he said: “I am very sorry, I was not thinking straight with drink, it was a very stupid thing to do and I won’t do anything like that again.”
Judge Kilrane said that Loughlin was at the Miner’s Bar Arigna, on the following day “spending money like a drunken sailor,” and using credit cards to pay for the alcohol.
“Were you not thinking straight the next day.”?
The defendant repeated that his head was not in the right place due to alcohol.
He lived with his aunt in Manorhamilton and had been working on the new road in Sligo until recently.
The defendant was not working at present but was looking for work in Dublin.
He told the court he was the eldest in his family.
Mr Burke said the family had fully supported him.
“That is some example to give to younger siblings,”said Judge Kilrane.
The court was told that compensation was also in court for the injured party.
Judge Kilrane said he had a view of thefts like this which were nasty as when a person is out socialising, they are relaxed and do not expect their wallet to be stolen from the bar.
He said the offence spoke to the character of the person who steals in that fashion.
A wallet was not just for holding money but was a personal thing and the theft was a “serious invasion of privacy” and was “opportunistic.”
And then the defendant went off on a spending spree on alcohol while out of his mind in drink, which was probably the case.
A mitigating factor was that the defendant co-operated immediately he was questioned by gardai and had owned up to this “nasty offence.”
He had brought €2,300 to court and there would be a lot of pain gathering that amount of money and he had paid back €100 compensation to the injured party.
The judge said it was a big ask to leave the defendant without a conviction, but he was prepared to do so with “serious reservations.”
If convicted, it would be nailed to the defendant’s CV for the rest of his life and would affect his employment chances and his character.
The Judge said the defendant “just about made my largesse and I will give you a chance on this occasion.”
The defendant was given the Probation Act on the charge of stealing the wallet and credit cards and the remaining charges were struck out.
Mr Burke said the defendant was most grateful and would not be before this court or any other court again.
The €2,300 was split up between SVP in Manorhamilton, Drumshanbo, Sligo, North West Hospice and Carrick-on-Shannon CCTV Company.