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Judge's birthday gift to burglar of 80 break-ins

A judge has allowed a serial burglar to have his sentence delayed until after his birthday, but warned him not to celebrate "too much".

Judge Mary Ellen Ring told Darren Coffey (35) to continue cooperating with probation officers and with Fas services for three months before she hands down a sentence for burglary in October.

When Coffey pointed out that his birthday would be on October 28, Judge Ring asked whether it would be better for him to be sentenced before or after. Coffey replied after, so Judge Ring remanded him on continuing bail for sentence on October 31, next.

"Just don't celebrate too much, and continue on the path you are on, because otherwise we will fall out, Mr Coffey," she advised. The judge had previously adjourned the case to yesterday to allow for a report from the Probation Service.

When the evidence was first heard last April, Judge Ring warned Coffey, who has 80 previous convictions for burglary, that he is now in a dangerous profession.

She said it was only a matter of time before someone like him walks into a residence and is seriously injured or killed, as there may be an armed homeowner waiting on the other side of that "inviting balcony".

Coffey, with an address at Judge Darley's Hostel, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Blackhall Place, Dublin 7 on February 17, 2012. He has 121 previous convictions in total which also include offences for criminal damage, public order and assault.

Garda Catherine Ferry told Noel Devitt, prosecuting, that the homeowners in Blackhall Place, a boyfriend and girlfriend, had been woken by a sound in their apartment and saw a man carrying a laptop and other computer equipment.

The man jumped on Coffey and wrestled with him. The scuffle continued into the hallway when the woman got involved. The couple tried to hold onto Coffey by grabbing his clothing but he managed to escape.

Garda Ferry said when she arrived at 3.20am the couple were "visibly upset". They then got in a garda patrol car and spotted him on Nth Brunswick Street where he was arrested.