A HOMELESS man was jailed for two years after he caused €15,000 worth of damage to multiple TV screens in a bookmakers outlet after claiming he "blamed Paddy Power for ruining his life."
Philip Barry (32) later said he had smashed the twelve TV screens in the Cork city bookmakers outlet just so he could be sent to prison and would have a warm bed for the night rather than being left homeless on the street.
However, a Cork Circuit Criminal Court judge warned that Irish prisons are not there to cater for the homeless. Barry, who is originally from Ballincollig, Co Cork, had used a heavy stool to smash twelve 55 inch TV screens in the Paddy Power outlet on Cornmarket Street in Cork on June 4 2019.
Terrified customers fled the bookies during the incident. He was jailed for three years, with the final 12 months suspended, after he pleaded guilty to criminal damage before Judge Brian O'Callaghan at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Garda Aidan Noonan previously explained that the background to the incident was that Barry had “blamed Paddy Power for ruining his life.”
Defence counsel, Alison McCarthy BL, said the major factor in the incident was that her client was very distressed and emotional at being homeless.
She told the court that the damage was caused by her client in a desperate attempt to be sent to prison so that he would have safe accommodation for the evening. Ms McCarthy pointed out that her client had later voluntarily gone to the Bridewell Garda Station in Cork and made full admissions about the incident involved.
Judge O'Callaghan heard Barry had a total of 103 previous convictions. These included convictions for criminal damage as well as public order and minor assault.
However, the court was told that Barry was entirely conviction-free for nine years to 2018 during a period in which he was living in his family's home.
An alcohol-problem resulted in him being asked to leave. Ms McCarthy said that the lack of a permanent home and instability in his life were the background to all his problems.
She said he is deeply remorseful over the criminal damage incident. Judge O'Callaghan was told that Barry has been in custody since June 5 last after he was unable to raise the €100 in his own bond required to avail of High Court bail.
On a previous occasion, Barry told the court that he had absolutely nothing to live for at the time of the malicious damage incident. "I just lost it. I had no family, no friends. I did it to try and get some help. I didn’t want to be on the streets,” he explained.
"I gambled - they destroyed most of my life."
The judge was told that a relative was now offering to provide secure shelter for him. However, Judge O'Callaghan noted that it was a serious incident and that there was a risk posed to both staff and customers in the bookmakers shop which the court had to take into consideration.
The judge stressed that businesses in Irish cities and towns were entitled to run their operations in a peaceful manner and without risk of attack.
He noted Barry's plea, his co-operation with the gardaí and the fact he had been conviction-free for almost a decade until 2018.
Judge O'Callaghan acknowledged the background to the incident but warned the behaviour of the defendant cannot be condoned.
"The Prison Service does not exist to look after homeless people. They (jails) are not there to provide social support services," he said.
He imposed a two year sentence and directed that Barry stay away from
both alcohol and drugs on his release from custody.
He was also warned not to enter any bookmakers premises in Ireland
after he completes his sentence.