The case was heard at Carrick-on-Shannon District Court
A man who told a court sitting he has “turned his life around” is being assessed for a community service order in lieu of a custodial sentence.
Patrick Nugent, Strokestown Road, Longford faced a number of charges relating to breaking and entering and theft when he appeared before Carrick-on-Shannon District Court recently.
Mr Nugent pleaded guilty to five separate counts relating to break-ins and thefts at locations in Rooskey, Dromod, Drumsna and Mohill areas between December 2017 and March 2018.
Items stolen included copper cylinders and piping as well as electrical wiring.
Sgt Michael Gallagher noted that all the houses targeted by the defendant were either unoccupied and had been so for some time, or were in ghost estates.
He said that two houses experienced water damage as a result of Mr Nugent's actions but noted that they “were both fairly derelict prior to this damage.”
It was noted that Mr Nugent had a number of previous convictions.
Defending solicitor, Mr Baxter, noted that his client had volunteered a significant amount of information and had co-operated fully with gardai and their investigation.
Gardai acknowledged that, although they had strong evidence for one of the break-ins, they would not have had enough evidence to bring charges against Mr Nugent in all matters without his cooperation.
The court heard that Mr Nugent had developed a serious drug addiction and had started taking drugs at age 10.
His long term partner had also died in his arms and his children had been taken into care just five months previous to these offences.
It was noted that Mr Nugent had voluntarily entered the Coolmine Drug Treatment programme and had successfully completed this since these offences.
He now works as a volunteer employee at Pavee Point and is also studying to be a drug counsellor.
The gardai acknowledged that it was Mr Nugent, who voluntarily contacted them about his role in the burglaries and it was noted that he had not come to the attention of gardai since these incidents.
Judge Kevin Kilrane acknowledged a number of aggravating factors such as Mr Nugent's previous criminal history but he noted that since these offences “in fairness he's turned himself around.
“Although the offences appear serious at first glance, these houses were all either in ghost estates or semi abandoned houses,” noted Judge Kilrane.
“Of course this did not give (Mr Nugent) free licence to enter these houses but to the extent that they were not occupied, that no persons were put in fear and that there was no violence, these are all mitigating circumstances.”
He also noted that Mr Nugent has suffered the loss of his partner and the impact this has had on his life and the lives of his children.
He said the defendant has worked hard to complete an addiction treatment programme and is now employed at Pavee Point and is also the sole carer of his five children.
“These are all mitigating factors,” he added.
Judge Kilrane said he was impressed by the way Mr Nugent had worked to turn his life around observing “he seems to be on the straight and narrow now.
“But for this he would be facing a very lengthy term in prison,” said the judge.
He asked that Mr Nugent be evaluated for suitability for completion of community service.
He said, if suitable, he would impose 240 hours of community service in lieu of a four month prison sentence but he stipulated “I won't say yet as to which charge this will apply to”.
Before the case proceedings finished, Mr Nugent asked if he could speak, apologising again for “what I done to people's houses. I was using heavy drugs at the time.
“I'm trying to help others now to stop them going down the same road,” he said.
Judge Kilrane acknowledged Mr Nugent's apology before adjourning the matter to June 11 for receipt of a report on the defendant's suitability for community service.
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