A burglar who claimed to be looking for tissues when a staff member caught him stooped over a safe in the back office of a jewellers has been jailed for 18 months.
Stephen Byrne (46), of Kilmartin Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Pandora Jewellers, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on March 3, 2019.
Byrne has 108 previous convictions including 53 burglaries, 16 thefts and two robberies.
Garda James O'Donnell told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that a staff member noticed a male stooped over a safe in the back office. When the male stood up and spoke to her she realised it was not a G4S officer as she had assumed and she called for security.
Byrne said her colleague had sent him in the back because he was looking for a tissue but she knew this was untrue. He started to leave but a security officer asked him to return to the store and called gardai.
Byrne initially denied remembering anything and told gardai “everything was a blur” as he had taken tablets. He said he had gone into the office looking for something to take and blacked out.
Gda O'Donnell agreed with Sarah Jane O'Callaghan Bl, defending, that Byrne had given gardai no difficulty and was co-operative. Nothing was taken from the office.
Ms O'Callaghan said Byrne had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and significant mental health issues. She said in his offending he did not use violence, threats or put people in fear. She said he had been receiving custodial sentences from 15 years of age.
She outlined he had a supportive family and hoped to make better choices in the future. She submitted he was someone who was indicating he wanted to change his ways.
Judge Melanie Greally noted Byrne had a large number of previous convictions for burglary and this was a pattern of behaviour that had been ongoing for a long time.
She said his offending was linked to his long standing drug addiction which he had sought to address without lasting success.
Judge Greally said she was going to structure a sentence in order to endeavour to break the cycle of offending which was in Byrne's own interest and as well as in the interest of the community.
She imposed a two and a half year sentence and suspended the final year on strict conditions including that he abide by all direction of his probation officer and mental health team.