Monday 19 March 2018

‘Amazing garda work’ used to catch thief who stole €180,000 after helping woman deactivate alarm

Sonya McLean

A man who stole €180,000 worth of jewellery from a house after helping a woman who was trying to deactivate the house alarm will be sentenced next month.

“The story as it unfolded, if considered by film producers would have been dismissed as totally unbelievable and not suitable for something on a TV or film set,” Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting told Judge Carmel Stewart in opening the case before her.

He also described the investigation as involving “the most amazing piece of police work” in bringing the thief, Martin Ryan (48), before the court.

Ryan of North William Street, North Strand, pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and theft of a quantity of jewellery in Stillorgan on April 21, 2010.

He has 71 previous convictions dating back to 1980 which include burglary and road traffic offences.

Garda Michael McCarthy told Mr Foley that a local businesswoman had asked one of her newly appointed staff to return to her Stillorgan home and get her laptop. The young woman was provided with the house keys and codes to the alarm.

She had trouble turning off the alarm and ran out on the street to seek help. She waved down a passing car and asked the driver for assistance.

Mr Foley said the driver of the car, Ryan, “very helpfully” came into the house and deactivated the alarm.

The employee then got the laptop but had trouble re-setting the alarm so left it off. She locked the doors and returned to work.

When her employer returned home she discovered that a safe, containing €180,000 worth of jewellery, had been taken from a wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom.

Gda McCarthy agreed with Mr Foley that the staff member was immediately under suspicion but the gardaí are now “100 percent confident” that the woman “had no hand, act or part in the burglary”. She did, however, lose her job.

She told gardaí about getting the assistance from the passing car and gardaí later identified the vehicle on CCTV footage from a nearby hotel.

The car was registered to Ryan’s former partner. During a subsequent search of their home, metallic dust, a used disk from an angle grinder and a receipt for the hire of an angle grinder were found in a garden shed.

The gardaí later identified Ryan on CCTV footage from a local hire shop getting the angle grinder.

Gda McCarthy said analysis of a laptop in Ryan’s home showed that someone had been searching websites for the value of the exact same Rolex watch which had been taken during the course of the burglary.

Ryan was arrested but refused to take part in a formal identity parade.

Gardaí then asked the staff worker to come to the station to assist in an informal identity parade during which she posed as a garda and handed out cigarettes and lighters to a number of potential suspects.

She positively identified Ryan as the man who had come to her help.

Gda McCarthy confirmed that the business woman later made an insurance claim and was awarded €108,000. The Rolex watch which had been taken was later tracked down in the UK.

Paul Greene SC, defending told Judge Stewart that his client had assembled together “an unusually large number of people in court to give evidence that they will support him when he is ready to re-emerge into society”.

He said that Ryan had a chaotic childhood and started abusing drugs at a young age.

He later rehabilitated and started working in a drug treatment programme for women in Dublin City where he was considered a valuable member of staff.

He left the project two years later in September 2010 when he relapsed into both drug and alcohol abuse following the breakdown of his 28 year relationship with his partner.

Mr Greene submitted that his client is “now again on the road to rehabilitation to become someone who is no longer a drain on society”.

Counsel said at the time of the burglary Ryan was abusing alcohol and drugs and had a heavy gambling addiction.

Judge Stewart said she needed time to consider the case and adjourned it to April.

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