A YOUNG garda has been acquitted of stealing money from friends and colleagues by taking cash from one of their lockers.
Probationary garda Kenny Clince (24) was cleared of a theft charge after he had been accused of dishonestly taking the cash that was collected in a whip-round for a colleague departing their station.
A judge found him not guilty of theft after finding that he would have been given permission to take the money on loan if he had asked the officer who had made the collection.
Garda Clince had borrowed the cash for an impromptu night of socialising which he could not afford because he had spent his wages on a secret gambling addiction.
Garda Clince had pleaded not guilty to stealing €120 from a collection that had been made by Garda Shauna Harvey to fund a going-away party for a colleague at Harcourt Terrace Garda Station on a date between October and November 2009.
A related charge of stealing €80 from a Christmas trip to Liverpool at the same time had already been dismissed.
Acquitting him, Judge Catherine Murphy said she was satisfied from the evidence that if Garda Harvey had known the accused wanted to borrow the money, it was likely she would have given her consent.
She noted the "culture that existed within D Unit that was based on trust, friendship and a significant degree of informality". She also pointed out no formal complaint had been made when the money went missing.
The court had heard Garda Clince had contributed €20 for the going-away party, as well as €80 for the Christmas trip.
He admitted taking cash from the lockers of the two gardai who were making the collections, but believed he had done nothing wrong as he would have had permission to borrow it. He had returned all the money shortly afterwards.