Castletown man set fire to van

A CASTLETOWN man, who is barred from his parents home and who targeted a local shopkeeper during a string of thefts, was sentenced to prison at last week’s District Court in Portlaoise.

A CASTLETOWN man, who is barred from his parents home and who targeted a local shopkeeper during a string of thefts, was sentenced to prison at last week’s District Court in Portlaoise.

The court heard from Garda Michael Kenneally that Peter Fleming “took a set against” the shopkeeper and his wife and committed several thefts over a number of weeks from their store in Castletown. Tobacco products, food and cash were all taken.

Garda Kenneally said that Fleming was residing next to the shop where the offences occurred.

On March 22 of this year, Fleming also set fire to the shopkeeper’s van, causing €500 damage.

Fleming was also charged with stealing five bottles of wine from the Emo Service Station on March 5. He also breached a barring order his own parents have in place against him, on March 24.

Fleming was previously sentenced to prison at the recent Circuit Court, where a suspended sentence was activated against him.

Defence, Mr Declan Breen said his client had been drinking very heavily for two to three weeks and had stolen food items as he was hungry and had no money for food.

Garda Kenneally confirmed that the gardaí had received numerous calls during that period about noisy house parties at Fleming’s residence and he said Fleming had been spending all his money on drink.

In relation to the breach of the barring order, Mr Breen said his client had not entered his parents’ house, he had been standing outside trying to get in to make a phone call.

Garda Kenneally said that Fleming had been agitated and intoxicated, but he had not caused any immediate hassle to his parents.

Mr Breen told Judge Catherine Staines that his client has serious difficulties when he drinks to excess.

“Once he starts, he can’t stop drinking,” Mr Breen said.

Mr Breen explained that when Fleming’s relationship with his girlfriend had ended around Christmas time it set off a chain reaction and he “fell into like-minded company”. Mr Breen said that Fleming had led a nomadic lifestyle for a few months, before he secured premises in Castletown and started drinking again.

Mr Breen concluded by saying that his client has only recently begun to understand the difficulties he had caused and is now drug free.

“He’s tired of being in and out of prison,” Mr Breen said.

Fleming was given two nine-month sentences, to run consecutive, but Judge Staines suspended the second sentence for two years, on condition that Fleming engage with the probation service for that time.