Saturday 25 November 2017

Five refused bail on theft charges amid intimidation fears

Tom Tuite

FOUR Dublin men and a Kosovan national, who are accused of stealing vehicles and building equipment, were refused bail today after a court heard fears that they would intimidate the primary witness in the case.

The men had been arrested as part of probe by the Garda Special Detective Unit and were brought before Dublin District Court yesterday (FRI) to face a theft charge and strenuous objections to bail.

All five are accused of stealing: an Iveco truck valued €6,000, an Alfa Romeo car worth €2,000, a motorbike valued at €1,000, welding and cutting equipment to the value of €1,200, and a €2,000 mini-digger.

The theft is alleged to have occurred at Aughrim Co. Wicklow, on September 10 last.

Detectives objected to bail citing the seriousness of the charges as well as fears that there would be interference and intimidation with the main witness .

The court also heard that gardai had “flight risk” concerns in relation to two of the men.

Unemployed, Robert Donoghue (28) from Cushlawn Avenue, Tallaght, Dublin said “no comment” when he was charged, Judge Michael Walsh heard. Detective Garda Fintan Curry said that Mr Donoghue's address had to be verified and it was alleged he and the co-defendants had contacted the injured party and then travelled “from one county to another to steal his vehicles”.

He said Mr Donoghue knew where the main witness lived.

Father-of-four Edward McDonagh (29) from Northern Cross Belcamp Lane, Dublin also made “no reply” when charged, Det-Gda Ronan Judge told the court. In addition to citing the possibility of witness interference as a reason for his objection to bail, Det-Gda Judge said that he was aware the Mr McDonagh, who is unemployed, planned emigrate in the coming weeks.

His lawyer told the court that Mr McDonagh would be contesting the charge and had told gardai that he had planned to leave the country because he was looking for work.

Kosovan national, Shaquo Laska, aged 28, who is in receipt of disability benefit, had been residing in Summerhill, in Dublin 1, but Det-Gda Alan Fitzgerald said that the man's current address was not certain and he was regarded as a “flight risk”.

Mr Laska, has been living in Ireland for 13 years, but the court head yesterday (FRI) that it was alleged that he had used “a number of addresses”.

Det-Gda Fitzgerald also said that Mr Laska “provided addresses we know he does not live at”. Several of them were searched and there was no evidence he had been living there, the detective also said. He also voiced fears of witness interference if bail were granted to Mr Laska.

Father-of-two, Glen Guerin (24), who had given an address at Buttercup Park, Darndale, Dublin had “nothing to say” in reply to the charge after caution.

Detective Garda Brian Alcock said that Mr Guerin had not been residing at the address he furnished, which is the home of his mother, for the past five years and may interfere with the witness in the case.

“We do not know where he resides at the moment, he has not lived there for five years”, the detective said adding that the man along with others had gone to Wicklow to the injured party's address in the past.

Defence solicitor Tracey Horan said her client “was in wrong place at wrong time” and asked the court to give bail to Mr Guerin whom she said would be allowed live with his sister in Santry, in north Dublin.

Father-of-three, Shane McDonagh (aged 28), from Northern Cross, Belcamp Lane, Dublin, made “no reply” when charged with the offence, said Det-Gda Ciaran Hobbs. He also said he had a “high belief” of intimidation of the injured party as he objected to bail. “We believe he had details in relation to the injured party,” said Det-Gda Hobbs also said.

Ms Horan said the man had very young children and “a wife who struggles to cope daily to look after the children”. He had been self employed and lately has been running a timber truck business and in the past had owned as a tipper truck. In 2010 his tipper truck was repossessed, the court heard.

Lawyers for the men argued that the concerns of the gardai could be met by the court imposing stringent bail terms including signing-on and curfew conditions and orders not to go to Co. Wicklow or near the witness.

However, the detectives all said that this would not allay their fears.

Judge Walsh said he was refusing bail on the grounds of the seriousness of the offences and the “possibility of interference with the primary witness”.

All five men, who were granted legal aid, have been remanded in custody pending their next hearing at Cloverhill District Court on September 20 next pending directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

A file is expected to be sent to the DPP in the coming weeks which will determine whether they will be tried in the district court or have their case go forward to the Circuit Court, which, on conviction, has wider sentencing powers.

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