A TRAINEE football coach has admitted having a stolen monkey in his car when he was stopped by gardai in Dublin.
Paul Murtagh (29) was ordered to carry out community service for possession of the stolen pet marmoset, which detectives found in a cage in the boot of his car.
The animal had been taken from the owner's home in a burglary earlier that day, Dublin District Court heard.
Murtagh, a father-of-three, had not stolen it but was "reckless" about where it came from when he gave a group of other people a lift.
The monkey was seized by gardai and immediately reunited with its relieved owners, a couple in Co Kildare.
Murtagh, with addresses at Birchdale Park, Kinsealy, Co Dublin, and Lighthouse Apartments, East Wall, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen Marmoset monkey, worth €1,500, at Ravensdale Road, East Wall on October 1 last.
He also admitted an unrelated charge of unlawful possession of a stun gun at Marlborough Place, Dublin 1 on October 27, 2009.
Judge Bryan Smyth imposed community service orders totalling 200 hours instead of a 10-month prison sentence.
Garda Liam Eviston told the court he stopped a car driven by the defendant and Murtagh agreed to a search.
"During the search a monkey was found in a cage in the boot of the car", the garda said. "It transpired it had been stolen in the course of a burglary".
The accused was very co-operative at the time, admitting that he knew the monkey was in the car.
It had been stolen from a house in Kildare and the property was returned to the owner.
Asked by Judge Smyth if it had been "fortuitous" that the accused was stopped, Garda Eviston said: "we were acting on information".
Defence Barrister Cathal O Braonain said Murtagh had driven to a house with some other people and "they collected a monkey in the back garden of this house".
He had denied knowing it was stolen but was reckless.
"The circumstances were so unusual, he was suspicious but he ignored the suspicion", Mr O Braonain said.
In the earlier incident, Garda Laura Carolan said she was on plainclothes patrol when the defendant pulled up and shouted: "anyone buying or selling zimos?", referring to Zimmovane tablets.
The garda searched his car and found no drugs but recovered the stun gun which was in a black schoolbag.
The court heard he had bought the gun legally while on holiday in Santa Ponsa but it was against the law to have it here. He brought it home in a suitcase and had been staying in a friend's house, but other people were staying there and he was afraid it would be stolen.
His "zimo" comment was a joke because he knew he was in an area where there would be herin addicts, Mr O Braonain said. He was not aware there were gardai in the vicinity
Murtagh had 31 previous convictions, but they were all for motoring offences. He was unemployed but was on a course training to be a football coach.
The only person he had used the stun gun on was himself and he had no "sinister" motive for having it.
By Andrew Phelan