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Dad stole €9k of wine then bought pet rabbit

A MAN who bought a rabbit for his children at a market having sold 121 cases of wine he had just stolen has been ordered to do community service in lieu of a two-year sentence.

Paul Richardson (25), of Greenfort Crescent, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the theft of the wine, worth €9,171, from United Beverages Limited, unlawfully taking possession of a vehicle and driving without insurance on August 12, 2007.

Richardson had been working on a casual basis for a haulage company who had hired trucks in the industrial estate in which United Beverages was located. He used one of these vehicles to load up the crates of wine and move them out of the yard.

He was easily identified by his employer, having viewed CCTV footage of the theft, driving into the yard in a van before he loaded up the truck and drove it away.

Richardson immediately admitted the theft after his employer rang him and asked him if he had taken the cases.

He also apologised for "causing trouble".

Judge Katherine Delahunt noted from Richardson's 33 previous convictions, that he had been disqualified from driving at the time and said he had basically "ignored the fact that he was supposed to be off the road".

She sentenced him to 240 hours' community service, to be completed within 12 months. and ordered that he was to repay United Beverages €4,000 within three years. Richardson was also disqualified from driving for two years. Judge Delahunt called it a "very strange set of circumstances" and said "the whole endeavour doesn't even seem to have been planned".

Det Garda Leanna Cruise told the court it was accepted that Richardson was not suspected of being involved in criminal activity and that his remorse was genuine.

Dean Kelly, defending, said Richardson had bought a rabbit for his children after he went to the Long Mile Road market after selling the wine.