A 22-year-old man who pleaded guilty to the burglary of Piercestown Parochial House has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Ross Bolger, from Hayesland, Kilrane, came before Judge Cormac Quinn at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on the charge of burglary at Piercestown Parochail House on August 6, 2017, and to the robbery of €400 cash, a crucifix and gold chain valued at €450.
He had also pleaded guilty to assaulting Piercestown Parish Priest, Fr. John O'Reilly, on the same occasion.
Det Garda Matt Kelly told the court that on the day in question, Fr O'Reilly had just returned to the parochial house after saying 11 a. m. Mass in Murrintown.
Fr O'Reilly had just began to sort out money from the church collection when he felt an arm come over his shoulder. A struggle ensued, with the defendant telling Fr O'Reilly 'I'm here for the money'.
Det Kelly said Fr O'Reilly subsequently gave gardai a description of the burglar, saying that he thought he recognised him from the previous evening's Mass.
Early on in the investigation, Bolger emerged as the prime suspect in the burglary, as he was spotted in the vicinity of the parochial house on the day in question by witnesses Frank Codd and John Devereux. Bolger was soon found hiding behind a tractor in a dishevelled state in possession of €380 in cash.
The defendant, said Det Kelly, was arrested and brought to Wexford Garda Station where he was interviewed. Clothing from Bolger was forwarded to forensics as was clothing from Fr O'Reilly for examination. The outcome of the analysis found that Ross Bolger was the person who struggled with Fr. O'Reilly.
Det Kelly said that Fr. O'Reilly was not physically injured as a result of the assault.
Replying to Defence Counsel, Jordan Fletcher, Det. Kelly said he would have been aware of the defendant having drugs issues at the time. He was squatting in a house in the area which had belonged to his late grandmother.
Mr Fletcher said Bolger was extremely remorseful for what had happened.
In relation to the burglary, Judge Quinn said he would impose a three-year prison sentence, backdated to his remand in custody last August. He marked the charge of assault taken into consideration.