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Binman (28) burgled school twice and sold haul to fund heroin habit

A BINMAN who twice broke into a school and stole a projector and printer needed money to buy drugs, a court heard.

Niall Byrne (28) said he had a "slip-up", but that he had been off heroin and had managed to stay out of trouble for more than two years.

A judge told the defendant that he would avoid going to jail if he compensated the school for the property he stole, and for the three windows he smashed.

Byrne, of Ashgrove Close, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, but originally from Dublin, admitted to two counts of burglary at Colaiste Eoin in Finglas on May 9 and on September 3 last year.

Sergeant Damien Galligan said Byrne forced open a window and broke into a classroom at around 10.30pm on May 9. He stole a school printer and a projector, worth €400, which has not been recovered.

Sgt Galligan said Byrne also smashed two windows in the school, causing €200 worth of damage.

The sergeant said the defendant returned to the school on September 3, again smashing a window to get in. This time, Byrne rummaged around a classroom, opening drawers and pulling out stuff, but nothing was taken.

The court heard he had 34 previous convictions, including drugs and firearms offences, though his most recent conviction was in September 2007.

Defence solicitor Mairead White said Byrne was now living in Cavan, and attending a clinic.

Ms White said the defendant had a very bad heroin problem, but had been staying out of trouble.

In relation to the burglaries, she said Byrne had a "slip-up" and needed money for heroin. He sold the stolen goods to buy drugs.

She said Byrne, who is working on and off for a refuse collection company, was willing to repay the school.

Judge Hugh O'Donnell ordered the defendant to pay €700 compensation and adjourned sentencing to a date in May. The judge said he would not send Byrne to prison if he had the money in court.