Friday 20 September 2019

Suspended sentence for man who stole €500 of mass donations

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

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Fiona Ferguson

A Dublin man who stole €500 of mass donations from the sacristy of a church has received a suspended prison sentence.

Justin Murray (40) of Moatview Court, Coolock, ran away from the church when a parishioner saw what he was doing.

Gardaí later identified Murray as the thief from CCTV in the area and found his bicycle which had a sticker with “Justin Murray” on it discarded on the church grounds.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today Judge Elma Sheahan noted that Murray had made efforts to rehabilitate from drug addiction and was now drug free.

She suspended a 12-month prison sentence on condition he continue to get treatment and that he keep the peace.

Murray had affirmed signed pleas of guilty to stealing cash at the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun, Dublin, on November 6, 2016. He has 77 previous convictions including ten thefts and 20 burglaries.

Murray is serving a prison sentence for another offence and is due for release in July 2019. The suspended sentence will be consecutive to this current sentence.

Earlier, Garda Ross Brierley told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that a parishioner who had been helping out after mass saw a man enter and take money from the church collection.

At first she thought he was there to help, but soon realised he was stealing money. The man 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 agreed that Murray's very early guilty plea to the offence was of great assistance.

Mr Kelly submitted to Judge Sheahan his client had wished to be transferred to Cork Prison as he found it easier to stay off heroin in that institution.

Counsel 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.

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

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