A phone stolen in a burglary was subsequently recovered after a Portlaoise man took a selfie with it, which was then uploaded automatically to the injured party’s email.
Thomas McInerney (30), Portlaoise, claimed he bought the phone for €130 at a market from someone he had never seen before.
The phone, a Samsung Galaxy worth €500, was one of several items stolen during a burglary in Athlone, and McInerney was sentenced to six months in prison for possession of stolen property.
He appealed this prison sentence at the recent sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court.
At the appeal, Garda John Diffiley gave evidence that a burglary took place in Athlone on February 28, 2015, in which cash, jewellery, computer games and mobile phones were all taken.
One of the phones, a Samsung Galaxy worth €500, was set up so that when a photograph was taken it also sent a picture to the email address of the injured party’s son.
Subsequently, a selfie of Thomas McInerney was received by this address, and when the accused’s home was searched the phone was found with his wife.
Garda Diffiley said it took a number of attempts to locate the accused, and when interviewed the accused claimed he had bought the phone at a market for €130, for which he received no receipt, from someone he had never seen before.
McInerney had 32 previous convictions.
Defence for the accused, Mr Thompson, said that McInerney had taken family shots with the phone, which had been located on the day in his wife’s pocket. She gave a voluntary caution statement to the gardaí, said defence.
The accused accepted that he had paid far below the market value for the phone.
Mr Thompson said that the accused, a Traveller who was longterm unemployed, had €300 in court to offer as compensation.
“He fell in with a bad crowd,” said defence, adding that the offence had been one of recklessness.
“He’s unable to read or write, but is currently doing the right thing,” said Mr Thompson.
Defence said that the accused had been involved in Portlaoise Boxing Club, winning over 220 of 300 amateur fights.
In ruling, Judge Keenan Johnson said that the offence might never have been detected but for the fact the accused took selfies, which were then uploaded to the injured party’s email.
He said this was something everyone should consider doing, as it was a very effective way of apprehending someone.
The judge said he was satisfied that there had to be a custodial element to the sentence, as receivers of stolen property are just as culpable as those who steal.
Judge Johnson increased the original sentence to eight months, but suspended the last six months on condition the accused enter into a ten-month peace bond; he pay €300 to St Vincent de Paul straight away; and he pay a further €300 to the charity by May 2017.