Tuesday 22 January 2019

Men stole €6,000 worth of power tools after breaking into building site

Jessica Magee

Four young men who broke into a building site and stole €6,000 worth of power tools were caught by gardaí after an eye-witness reported the crime as it unfolded, a court has heard.

Martin Stokes (27) of Old Castle Park Green, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin was sentenced to 21 months in prison for his role in the theft at Phoenix Park Racecourse Apartments, Navan Road, Dublin 7 on October 7, 2016.

Joseph Stokes (19), Eddie Stokes (23) and Tom McDonagh (21), all from the same address as Martin Stokes, were also sentenced to 21 months but their sentences were suspended in full.

All four had pleaded guilty to stealing the equipment, which included a lawnmower, power drills and a workbench, from Flynn and O'Flaherty Developers Ltd..

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said the men were spotted by an “observant citizen” who informed the guards and gave a good description of the men.

Judge Nolan said described it as a “serious enough” crime, and said the loss of property could have a serious effect on the business of Flynn and O'Flaherty Developers.

He gave suspended sentences to three of the men on account of their good records, but he said that given that Martin Stokes had previously been handed a suspended sentence of two and a half years for violent disorder, he had no option but to jail him.

Judge Nolan also said he took into account that they were all young men at the time of the offence.

The court heard that a woman had been on the balcony of her home overlooking the building site shortly before 9pm when she saw a Hyundai people carrier drive up to the gates.

A prosecuting garda told Derek Cooney BL, representing the State, that the woman saw three men get out of the vehicle and cut the bolt off the gate with what appeared to be a bolt-cutters.

The woman said there were about 15 to 20 steel containers on site, and that she saw the men break into one of the containers, remove items and drive away.

She phoned gardaí to report the incident and while she was still on the phone, the vehicle returned a few minutes later and the men broke into a second container, removed items and drove away again.

They were apprehended by gardaí on the Navan Road and all the items were recovered. The stolen goods included one roll of electrical cable, van Vault job box, two extension leads, one bench saw, one Power Craft drill, one Split Drill, one Nutool Drill, two Split nail guns, one safety harness, two Hilti drill boxes, two lifting slings, one work bench, one level, one jigsaw, one sander, five drill battery chargers, one cordless drill, one power float, one Masport lawnmower, one Airmate compressor and one router bench.

All four men cooperated with gardaí, made early pleas of guilty and apologised through their barristers to the company concerned.

Trevor Spencer BL, representing the youngest accused Joseph Stokes, said his client was aged 18 at the time and had an “unblemished record” prior to this offence.

Pieter Le Vert BL, representing Eddie Stokes, said his client was 21 at the time and had four previous convictions for minor offences. He said Stokes was “extremely embarrassed and remorseful” for the offence.

Counsel for Tom McDonagh said he was also very remorseful and noted that his new baby born last September was in and out of intensive care from birth.

Counsel for Martin Stokes said he was engaging in work experience and had a 15-month old son who was ill and required his care.

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