Saturday 24 March 2018

Wicklow burglar who drilled way into jewellery shop gets three years

Sonya McLean

A WICKLOW father of two who drilled his way into a jewellery and antique shop before stealing almost €14,000 worth of goods has been sentenced to three years.

Graham Potts (26) was suspected after the caretaker in his girlfriend’s apartment complex spotted the stolen jewellery hidden in a rucksack in the car park of the building.

Potts’ DNA was found on a pair of rubber gloves and hand tools left with the bag.

The caretaker was also able to provide gardai with CCTV footage showing Potts leaving the complex on the night of the burglary and returning with the rucksack before going into the car park.

Garda Timothy McAuliffe told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that DNA taken from another set of gloves and tools left in the debris in the shop also linked Potts to the crime.

He was also spotted on CCTV footage from shops near to the jewellery store.

Potts of The Fairways, Woodbrook Glen, Bray pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary of The Treasure Chest in Blackrock on August 28, 2011.

His 12 previous convictions included drug, traffic and public order offences.

Judge Martin Nolan said it had been “to some degree a well thought out burglary” and that the caretaker’s evidence allowed the gardai “to put all the pieces together”.

“He was under financial pressure but so are a lot of people,” Judge Nolan said before he suspended all but 15 months of the three year term.

Gda McAuliffe said he arrived at The Treasure Chest at 2.30am after the intruder alarm went off.

The owner of the shop was already there and he showed gardai that the burglar had gained access by coming through a courtyard behind the building and drilling a hole through the wall of the shop.

Potts had taken €13,909 worth of jewellery which consisted of diamond rings, gold necklaces, other precious metals and costume jewellery.

The following October gardai were contacted by the caretaker at Abbeyglen Apartments in Cabinteely who noticed his ladder was missing and then discovered the hidden jewellery, worth €464.

This was later returned to the owner of the shop but the remainder was never recovered.

The caretaker was able to identity Potts on CCTV footage from the complex and told gardai he was the boyfriend of one of the residents.

Potts was arrested later that day and made full admissions in a subsequent interview.

Gda McAuliffe agreed with Lily Buckley BL, defending, that her client’s admissions and subsequent plea of guilty were helpful to the prosecution of the case.

He accepted that Potts claimed in interview that he had been under financial pressure at that time as he had built up a drug debt and neither he nor his partner were working,.

Ms Buckley told Judge Nolan that her client left the family home when he was 15-years-old and had “made his own way in the world”. She said he was struggling to make ends meet at the time of the burglary and had been “dabbling in drugs”.

“He took a short cut to get himself out of the situation he found himself in,” counsel submitted before she asked Judge Nolan to accept that Potts was “not a lost cause”.

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