Priest gives burglar a lift after finding him hiding in wardrobe
A 'Good Samaritan' priest gave a burglar a lift into town only minutes after finding the burglar hiding in his wardrobe.
Fr Paddy Conway entered the Christmas spirit early by giving drug addict Michael Clune (30) a lift into Ennis, Co Clare after Mr Clune had given back the €20 he had stolen in the burglary.
At Ennis District Court, Mr Clune - who has 69 previous convictions - pleaded guilty to the burglary on December 7 at Cloughleigh, Ennis, and received an eight-month suspended jail term consecutive to the eight months in jail he is currently serving.
Mr Clune, of Bridgeview, Roslevan, Ennis, is a regular before the local district court.
Addressing court, Judge Patrick Durcan noted "when you open your wardrobe, the last thing you expect to see is Mr Clune.
"It is an appalling burglary," he added.
Ironically, Fr Conway - who is 73 and lives by himself - said that he had received a Christmas card from Mr Clune only days before the burglary.
The Christmas card was delivered to the Presbytery in Ennis.
"Michael told me that he thought that the house was empty and didn't know I lived there," Fr Conway said.
Fr Conway said that he has known Michael "since he was a young lad and I was disappointed that he would do something like this".
The assistant priest in Ennis said that he left his home for 25 minutes and returned home to find a concrete block put through the window.
On searching the house, Fr Conway found Mr Clune hiding in his wardrobe and discovered that €20 was missing.
"I said more or less to Michael 'I know your family and I know you since you're a young lad and why would you do that to me?'," Fr Conway said.
"He asked me 'Will you drive me down town?' and I said 'I will but first you will have to give me my €20 back'".
The priest said that Mr Clune first denied that he took the €20 and removed his shoes and socks to prove he wasn't hiding the cash in his shoes.
"He swore by all the gods in the world that he didn't take it," Fr Conway said.
"I said either you give me back the money or I take you to the garda and eventually he did give me the €20."
Fr Conway drove Mr Clune into Ennis. Along the way, Mr Clune asked the priest to buy him methadone.
"I told him I couldn't do that," Fr Conway said.
The priest said that he decided to bring Mr Clune to another local priest with whom Mr Clune was friendly.
The priest wasn't around and Fr Conway said that he left Mr Clune "on reasonably good terms" at Ennis's cathedral.
However, on advice received, Fr Conway reported the incident at the local garda station.