Steel thief with drug debt jailed for Ballyroan raid

A MAN who stole €2,000 of steel from a compound in Ballyroan to pay drug dealers has been jailed for six months.

A MAN who stole €2,000 of steel from a compound in Ballyroan to pay drug dealers has been jailed for six months.

Portlaoise District Court heard the father of two’s family had been threatened and he was so desperate to pay a huge drug debt that he went through a phase of stealing scrap.

Judge William Early ordered that the sentence be served concurrent to a sentence already being served by Mark Kenna, originally from Edenderry but now living at Ennell Court, Mullingar.

He pleaded guilty to taking a variety of metal parts including forks, gear boxes, axels, springs, tow-bars and differentials from the premises on February 2.

The 37 year old was stopped by gardai as he passed through Portlaoise and the items were recovered, Inspector Martin Harrington explained.

Kenna has a number of previous convictions for offences including assault causing harm and other public order offences, but he has no convictions for theft.

Mr Philip Meagher said Kenna previously had a serious hash habit and built up significant debt with dealers in his area.

He was so terrified of them that he missed his last court appearance to avoid seeing them, he said, adding that Kenna’s family have been threatened and all are “in genuine fear of harm.”

Kenna knows he should have dealt with the matter differently and is now improving his life, studying in prison and working in the drug-free unit.

He is on an enhanced programme and also hopes to have the opportunity to work in the officers’ mess, which Mr Meagher said was the ultimate privilege for a prisoner.

He intends not to go down the drugs road again and will stay away from the company he used to keep, Mr Meagher concluded.

Judge Early imposed a six month sentence which is to run alongside the sentence Kenna is currently serving in the Midlands Prison.