Tuesday 23 April 2019

Thief with 115 previous convictions who stole medical students' laptops is jailed

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Fiona Ferguson

A thief with 115 previous convictions who stole medical students’ laptops from outside lecture halls in Trinity College has been jailed for three years.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard one of the students could not afford to replace her laptop immediately and felt she had failed one of her exams as a result of being without it.

Stephen Finn (32) was identified on CCTV after managing to evade detection during the thefts.

He is currently serving a four-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended for offences committed on bail after he was released on these charges. His prior convictions include 21 burglaries, as well as public order and road traffic offences.

Finn, of Georges Court, Georges Hill, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to burglary at two departments in Trinity College in January and February 2017. He also admitted burglary at the Central Hotel, Exchequer Street and at a business premises on Pearse Street on dates in February 2017.

Judge Melanie Greally said the laptops were of “immeasurable value” to the students and noted that there had been “severe consequences” for one of the students who failed a final medical exam.

She said they were “extremely thoughtless and damaging offences” which were distressing for the victims. She said Finn had a well-established tendency to steal to fund his drug habit and lifestyle.

She noted Finn “presents well” and doesn't arouse suspicion, managing to steal without detection.

Judge Greally took into account his remorse, his efforts to address his drug addiction, that he is using his time in custody constructively and his anxiety to take a responsible role as a father.

She imposed a four-year sentence, with the final year suspended, to start from the sentence date, today.

Garda Barry Keegan told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that on January 31, 2017, Finn entered the Biomedical Science Anatomy area in Trinity, where he stole a bag containing two laptops and a passport from outside a lecture hall.

Two days later on February 2, 2017 Finn entered the Biomedical Science Institute at Trinity and stole a laptop from outside a lecture hall. None of the laptops were recovered.

On February 7, 2017 Finn stole a computer monitor from the Central Hotel. Ten days later on February 17, he stole a bicycle from an architects’ premises on Pearse Street.

Finn was identified by gardaí on CCTV in relation to all incidents and arrested. He was later admitted to bail and committed further burglaries in June 2017.

The students’ victim impact statements outlined how they were at a financial loss due to the theft of their laptops and the cost of replacing them. One reported feeling uncomfortable around lecture halls, an area they had previously considered secure.

One of the victims was an international fee-paying student and could not afford to replace her laptop straight away. She outlined how she had failed one of her exams which she felt was a result of being without her laptop in the run up to the exam.

Carol Doherty BL, defending, said Finn was remorseful for the offence and acknowledged that what he did had a serious impact on his victims. She said he had thought only of himself when he was a drug user but now had some awareness of the effect of his offences on individuals.

Ms Doherty said Finn had addressed his drug issues in custody. She said he was a trained roofer and was now the father of young child.

Finn wrote a letter of apology which was handed into the judge. Finn told the court he was “truly sorry for what I done” and was sorry for what he had put the injured parties through.

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