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'Ireland's dumbest criminal' didn't bet on being found

A BURGLAR hid from gardai behind an advertising hoarding in a bookies because he didn't want to be branded "Ireland's dumbest criminal".

Ian Howe was one of three men caught trying to remove a safe from a bookies during Cheltenham race week, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

Mark Wilders (34) and John Regan (34), both of Abercorn Square, Inchicore, and Howe (24) of Cherry Orchard Avenue, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to the burglary of Ladbrokes, Sundrive Road on St Patrick's Day last year.

Regan also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill gardai during the burglary.

Garda Rioghnach O'Sullivan told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that she went to the back of the bookmakers after seeing the burglar alarm flashing and saw Wilders and Regan carrying a safe out into the back of a van.

When she shouted at them to stop, Regan held up a long object and pointed it at her as if it was a shotgun and shouted: "Get the f**k out or I'll f**king shoot you".

Gda O'Sullivan said the weapon turned out to be a sledgehammer but at the time she believed it was a real firearm and was in fear for her life.

After Wilders and Regan came out with their hands up, the garda found the third man hiding behind some advertising hoarding in the front of the shop.

Howe, an apprentice electrician, told gardai he had hidden there "so I wouldn't be put down as Ireland's dumbest criminal".

The men had used sledgehammers to remove the safe, which contained nearly €6,000 in takings, from its concrete housing. They had a trolley which they planned to use to move the safe to the van.

Defence counsel for Regan, Kieran Kelly BL, said the burglary happened during Cheltenham week when the bookmakers would have been busy and that his client had been out celebrating the race meet by getting drunk.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a two-and-a-half year sentence on Regan, who is already serving a five-year sentence for possession of firearms. He sentenced Howe and Wilders to 15 months' imprisonment.

Irish Independent