Burglar on suspended jail term robbed churches and schools

Declan Brennan and Aaron Rogan

A MAN who burgled churches and primary schools while he was serving a suspended sentence for other burglaries has been jailed for a year.

James Byrne (43) of Balfe Road, Crumlin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Drimnagh Castle Primary School; St Agnes's Church, Crumlin; Assumption Church, Walkinstown, and St Mark's Junior School, Tallaght, on dates from October 3 to 13, 2014. Byrne also pleaded guilty to criminal damage at St Mark's Junior School.

Judge Catherine Murphy suspended the last year of a two-year jail term on condition he keeps the peace and engages with drug addiction services.

Byrne has 26 previous convictions including five for burglary, three for aggravated burglary and others related to larceny and domestic violence. He was serving a suspended sentence for burglaries when he committed these offences. Garda Orla Madden told Diarmuid Collins, prosecuting, that on October 5, 2014, Byrne knocked on the door of St Agnes's Church and asked to see a priest.

The woman who let him in had been counting coins in the sacristy and told Byrne to wait.

Minutes later she saw him jump up and run from the church.

Byrne later told gardai that he got €56 from the theft. On October 13, 2014, at Assumption Church, Walkinstown, Gda Madden said he stole between €200 and €300.

Gda Madden told the court that Byrne identified himself on CCTV footage from Drimnagh Castle Primary School on October 3, 2014, after a teacher reported their laptop as stolen.

Gda Kieran Kilcoyne said that Byrne also broke into St Mark's Junior School in Tallaght, on October 12, 2014 and caused €3,500 worth of damage.

James Dwyer, defending, said his client, a father-of-four, was remorseful.