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Portmarnock school trespassers claim they were trying to make money on ‘someone else’s rubbish’

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Swords District Court

Swords District Court

Swords District Court

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Two men who pleaded guilty to trespass at Portmarknock Community School were “simply trying to make a bit of money out of someone else’s rubbish” a court has heard.

John Moorehouse (30) and John Connors (36) were arrested after the school caretaker called gardaí when he noticed them on the school grounds.

The pair told gardaí they had seen a skip and thought they could go through it but the skip was not visible from the road, Swords District Court was told.

Defence solicitor Fiona D’Arcy said the pair were looking for scrap to sell on.

Sergeant Patricia McGarrity told the court gardaí received a call shortly before noon to report two males driving a red van had entered the school grounds.

The caretaker who reported the incident believed the pair were there for “nefarious reasons”, she said.

When gardaí spoke to John Moorehouse, of Walcott Halting Site, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, and asked him why he was on the school property he said he had seen a skip and thought he could go through it.

The skip was not visible from the road, Sergeant McGarrity said.

Moorehouse has no previous convictions.

She said gardaí also spoke to John Connors who could give no valid reason for being on the grounds of the school.

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Connors, of Stonebridge Grove, Shankill, has 13 previous convictions.

The caretaker confirmed neither of the men had permission to be there, she added.

Ms D’Arcy said there was a construction site next door to the school and the two men had seen a skip and wanted to go through it to see if there was any scrap they could take to resell.

She said the incident happened at midday, the school was closed and no one was put in fear.

They had been successful in dealing with scrap metal previously and when the caretaker spoke to them, they asked if they could go through the skip.

The caretaker said he was calling gardaí and they stayed with him for half an hour until gardaí arrived.

The solicitor said the two men were “simply trying to make a bit of money out of some else’s rubbish”.

There was no evidence they were threatening in any way and they told gardaí the same story they had told the caretaker, she added.

When asked by the judge to explain why they were on the school grounds to go through the skip when the skip could not be seen from the road, Ms D’Arcy said the pair “assumed” there would be a skip because there was a construction site next door.

She said the incident happened in the middle of the day and if there was anything more sinister or untoward going on they could have waited and gone back at night.

Convicting the pair, Judge John O’Leary said he wasn’t satisfied he’d heard everything in this case but he would give the defendant’s “the benefit of the doubt” because he couldn’t assume anything.

He fined John Moorehouse €200 and John Connors €400.


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