Sunday 27 May 2018

Man who stole €500 of mass donations left his bike at scene with name sticker on it

Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun
Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Fiona Ferguson

The sentencing of a Dublin man who left a bicycle with his name on a sticker attached to it on church grounds after making off with €500 of mass donations has been adjourned for one year.

Justin Murray (38) cycled to the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun to “creep” in and steal money but fled on foot when he was seen taking collection envelopes by a parishioner.

Gardai later found the bike which had a sticker with “Justin Murray” on it discarded on the church grounds.

Murray, of Moatview Court, Coolock, affirmed signed pleas of guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing cash at the church on November 6, 2016.

He has 77 previous convictions including ten thefts and 20 burglaries.

Judge Elma Sheahan had adjourned sentencing after hearing evidence last July to allow a probation report to be prepared.

Today she noted his current drug free status and desire to rehabilitate. She said the court was very impressed with his efforts.

She noted any sentence would have to be consecutive to his current sentence and that he was not due for release until July 2019.

She said she would give him a further opportunity to impress the court and adjourned finalisation until April 2019. She ordered updated urine analysis and reports.

Garda Ross Brierley told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, at the original sentence hearing that he and colleagues identified Murray as the thief from CCTV in the area.

The garda said a parishioner who had been helping out after morning mass saw a male enter and take money from the church collection.

At first she thought he was there to help but then realised he was stealing money. She said the male fled on foot when he spotted her.

Gda Brierley said he arrested Murray the next day at a shopping centre after he and colleagues were satisfied he was the culprit. He said Murray was on bail for a robbery at the time.

He agreed with Dean Kelly BL, defending, that Murray had gone into the church “to creep into a private area and steal money” but that he had instead come face-to-face with the parishioner.

The garda further agreed that Murray's very early guilty plea to the offence was of great assistance.

At a hearing last July, Mr Kelly told Judge Sheahan that his client was on an enhanced regime in custody and wished to be transferred to Cork Prison as he found it easier to stay off heroin in that institution.

He asked the court to take into account that Murray's convictions had been due to his addiction and that he had been stealing to get drugs.

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