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Thief helped woman to turn off alarm – then stole €180k of jewellery

A MAN who stole €180,000 worth of jewellery from a house after coming to the assistance of a woman who was trying to deactivate an alarm has been handed a two-year sentence.

"The story as it unfolded, if considered by film producers, would have been dismissed as totally unbelievable and not suitable for something on a TV or film set," Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, told Judge Carmel Stewart.

He said the investigation involved "the most amazing piece of police work" in bringing the thief, 48-year-old Martin Ryan, before the court.

Ryan of North William Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at the Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and theft of a quantity of jewellery in Stillorgan, Dublin, on April 21, 2010.

He had 71 previous convictions dating back to 1980, which included burglary and road traffic offences.

Judge Stewart imposed a two-year sentence with the final six months suspended on strict conditions. She also imposed six months of supervision with the probation service.

Garda Michael McCarthy told Mr Foley that a local businesswoman had asked one of her newly appointed staff to return to her Stillorgan home and get her laptop. The young woman was provided with the house keys and codes to the alarm.

She had trouble turning off the alarm and ran out on the street to seek help. She waved down a passing car and asked the driver for assistance.

Mr Foley said the driver of the car, Ryan, "very helpfully" came into the house and deactivated the alarm.

The woman got the laptop but had trouble re-setting the alarm so left it off. She locked the doors and returned to work.

When the owner returned home she discovered that a safe containing €180,000 worth of jewellery had been taken from a wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom.

Gda McCarthy agreed with Mr Foley that the staff member was immediately under suspicion but the gardai were now "100pc confident" that the woman "had no hand, act or part in the burglary".

She told gardai about getting the assistance from the car and they later identified the vehicle on CCTV footage.

The car was registered to Ryan's former partner. During a search of their home, metallic dust, a used disk from an angle grinder and a receipt for the hire of an angle grinder were found in a shed.

Gardai later identified Ryan on CCTV footage from a local hire shop getting the angle grinder.

Gda McCarthy said analysis of a laptop in Ryan's home showed that someone had been searching websites for the value of the exact same Rolex watch which had been taken.

Identity

Ryan was arrested but refused to take part in a formal identity parade.

Gardai then asked the staff worker to come to the station to assist in an informal identity parade during which she posed as a garda and handed out cigarettes and lighters to suspects. She positively identified Ryan.

Gda McCarthy confirmed the businesswoman later made an insurance claim and was awarded €108,000.

Paul Greene SC, defending, told Judge Stewart that Ryan had a chaotic childhood and started abusing drugs at a young age.

Mr Greene submitted that his client was "now again on the road to rehabilitation to become someone who is no longer a drain on society".

Irish Independent