A Sligo man who went on a stealing spree from churches in Sligo and Leitrim has been remanded on bail until October, at Manorhamilton District Court.
Laurence McGowan (34) with addresses at Shalamar Hostel and Maryville, Sligo pleaded guilty to several theft and criminal damage charges.
He pleaded guilty that on October 6 last year at St Clare’s Church, Manorhamilton he entered as a trespasser and stole €250.
He also pleaded guilty that on December 2 last year at the same venue, he stole envelopes from a brass box to the value of €50, property of Fr John Gilhooly.
On the same date and location, he admitted causing criminal damage to a brass box belonging to Fr Gilhooly.
On December 4 last year at the same venue, he admitted stealing coins from a candelabra to the value of €25 property of Fr Gilhooly.
On the same date and location he admitted causing criminal damage to a lock on brass candelabras belonging to Fr Gilhooly.
The defendant pleaded guilty to public intoxication on December 9 last year at Lord Edward Street, Sligo.
On November 4 last year at St Mary’s Cathedral, Temple Street, Sligo he admitted causing criminal damage to the lock of a money box belonging to Fr Declan Boyce.
And on November 5 last year, at the same venue, he admitted that he stole the contents of a money box totalling €20 belonging to Fr Boyce.
On the same date and location, he admitted causing criminal damage to a lock and money box belonging to Fr Boyce.
On June 25 last year at the same location, he admitted stealing €40 from a money box belonging to Fr Boyce.
He also pleaded guilty to public intoxication on November 10 last year at Finisklin Far, Sligo.
On October 31 last year at St Mary’s Cathedral, Temple Street, Sligo he admitted stealing coins to the value of €20 from Fr Boyce.
On the same date and venue, he admitted causing criminal damage to the lock of the money box belonging to Fr Boyce.
On November 3 at the same venue, admitted stealing stole coins to value of €20 belonging to Fr Boyce. On the same date and venue, he admitted causing criminal damage to two locks on money boxes belonging to Fr Boyce.
Defence solicitor Gerry McGovern said a Probation Report was in court.
Mr McGovern said the defendant was working with an addiction counsellor and hadn’t drank in a considerable time.
He added that there was progress in relation to him being housed within the next month.
The defendant saw his counsellor three days a week and was now in a good place.
Most of these offences were committed when he was living rough and taking alcohol and other substances, Mr McGovern said.
He seems to have got over those issues, the court heard.
The solicitor said the defendant would be getting a house in Ballisodare this month.
The defendant said he had not taken any drink or drugs in six months.
He had been living in Maryville Hostel in Sligo and had not come to any garda attention.
The defendant said his mental health was not very good and he was on medication.
He was hoping to get a new place, get on a course or part- time work.
Judge Kevin Kilrane said the defendant had stolen from churches in Sligo, the Cathedral and Manorhamilton and they were “very nasty offences.”
He had also smashed up a number of money boxes.
“Did it never strike you to ask the priest to see if he would give you money instead of stealing from the churches?” he asked.
The defendant said he was “not in my right mind” had fallen into depression and was drinking heavily and taking medication at the time as the offences occurred.
Addiction counsellor Imelda McDaid, who works with Housing First, said she worked with the defendant two days a week.
When he was stealing, he was homeless on the streets, but he was much better now.
“I worked with him in Maryville and he is much better now.”
The defendant is still living in Maryville.
He is due to be housed in Ballisodare.
His mental health was good, but he needed guidance when he got frustrated and that is where Housing First comes in.
And there would be a follow up when he got his house, she said.
The counsellor said if the defendant keeps taking his medication, does not take alcohol, and has support, he will be alright.
Judge Kilrane released the defendant on bail on condition that he lives at Maryville until he gets his house.
He has to co-operate with all relevant bodies.
He is not to re-offend, stay off illegal drugs and alcohol and take his prescribed medication.
The judge remanded the defendant on continuing bail until October 13 with liberty to re-enter.
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