a ROLEX watch worth over €26,000 which was taken by a thief and supposedly discarded out a car window in south Dublin has yet to be recovered, a court has heard.
James Gallagher (28) snatched the watch from a customer who was trying it on in a jewellery store in Dundrum Town Centre and was later spotted by gardai fleeing the area in a car.
A high-speed chase took place which ended when the garda car crashed and lost sight of Gallagher.
When arrested two weeks later, Gallagher claimed he threw the watch out the window during the chase as they passed Wesley College in Ballinteer, south Dublin.
Judge Martin Nolan asked if the watch was ever recovered. The court heard a search of the area did take place after Gallagher's claim but it was never found.
"We did a search but two weeks had passed by then judge," a garda told the court.
Judge Nolan imposed a two-and-half-year sentence on Gallagher and backdated it to when he went into custody. He said Gallagher put members of the public in considerable danger by engaging gardai in a high-speed chase along portions of the M50.
Gallagher of Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft at Weir's Jewellers, Dundrum, and dangerous driving and driving without insurance on the M50 on September 25, 2013.
Prosecuting counsel Caroline Cummins BL presented evidence that a man entered the jewellers and asked to try on a Rolex or Breitling watch with a gold band.
The shop assistant took a Rolex, worth €26,200, out of the display case and showed it to him.
As the customer was examining the watch Gallagher appeared over his shoulder and grabbed it.
There was a brief tussle between the customer, shop assistant and Gallagher, before the thief escaped with the timepiece.
A security guard gave chase and saw Gallagher drive away in a Volkswagen Golf. A garda car spotted the Golf nearby driving dangerously and started to follow it.
Gallagher led gardai on a chase towards Enniskerry, reaching speeds of over 120 kph on roads with a 50kph speed limit. The garda lost sight of Gallagher when the patrol car lost control and crashed. He was later arrested after being identified on CCTV footage from the shop.
Gallagher told gardai he stole the watch to feed his crack cocaine habit.