Wednesday 23 October 2019

Man who burgled four student apartments while occupants slept is jailed

Whelan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and theft of four apartments in Gateway Student village, Ballymun (pictured), on October 4, 2018.
Whelan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and theft of four apartments in Gateway Student village, Ballymun (pictured), on October 4, 2018.

A man who burgled four student apartments in Dublin while their occupants were asleep has been jailed for two and a half years.

Simon Whelan (32) of Meridian Court, Royal Canal Park, Ashtown, Dublin, made full admissions to gardaí about these offences and a string of other burglaries at shops and restaurants, but said that he “didn’t care about getting caught”.

Whelan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and theft of four apartments in Gateway Student village, Ballymun, on October 4, 2018.

He further admitted burglaries at Salamanca Restaurant, Andrew Street, on July 23, 2017; at Lush, Grafton Street, on August 16, 2018; at 777 Restaurant, South Great George's Street, on August 20, 2018 and at Nisbits Catering Equipment, ILAC Centre, on September 7, 2018.

Passing sentence today, Judge Melanie Greally set a global sentence for all the offences of three and a half years, but suspended the final 12 months.

She noted from reports that Whelan had a longstanding drug addiction and a lengthy history of offending, but that he was now committed to engaging with rehabilitation services and had been offered residential treatment.

Judge Greally said mitigating factors included the fact that there had been no violence involved in Whelan’s crimes and that generally speaking he avoided confrontation. She said his personal background had been very difficult. However, the judge said an aggravating element was that some of the burglaries had been committed while Whelan was on bail for previous offences.

Garda Sergeant Colm McGallagher told the court that in the early hours of the morning on October 4, 2018, Whelan broke into four apartments in the student accommodation complex and stole valuable items while the occupants were sleeping.

Sgt McGallagher said a garda saw the accused struggling to carry a heavy bag on the street and stopped him. Whelan threw the bag at the garda and tried to run away, but was caught and arrested.

Inside the bag were various valuable items including laptops, speakers, watches, wallets and cash. All items save for a small amount of cash were recovered and returned to the victims.

In interview with gardaí, Whelan said, “I don't care about getting caught, it's about the hit.”

Gda Sgt McGallagher agreed with Simon Matthews BL, defending, that his client had been taking drugs since his release from custody and that no violence was used during the incident.

Mr Matthews said Whelan had spent a lot of time in custody since 2007 and that he developed an addiction to crack cocaine and heroin while in custody. He lives with his partner and three children.

Whelan has 105 previous convictions. These include convictions for 57 burglaries, aggravated burglary, false imprisonment, assault, criminal damage, theft and two further burglaries committed in Northern Ireland.

The court heard that Whelan stole a cash box containing €1,600 from Salamanca Restaurant in July of 2017 and €215 from employees of 777 Restaurant in August of 2018. On both occasions he walked into the staff rooms without being stopped.

Garda Joanne Brown told the court that Whelan also walked into the staff room of Lush where he stole mobile phones and cash in August of 2018. When arrested, he identified himself on CCTV footage, but said he did not recall the incident.

Garda Conor Moran said Whelan set off the alarm of Nisbits Catering Equipment while trespassing and was arrested in September of 2018.

He was charged on the day of the offence, meaning he was on bail when he committed the burglaries of the student accommodation.

Judge Melanie Greally backdated the sentence to October 4, 2018.

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