Beggar, thief and ‘nuisance’ released

A MAN with 71 previous convictions who was recently convicted of numerous charges including theft, aggressive begging and the possession of a knife was released on a suspended sentence at last week’s district court.

A MAN with 71 previous convictions who was recently convicted of numerous charges including theft, aggressive begging and the possession of a knife was released on a suspended sentence at last week’s district court.

Before the court was Brian McDonagh, with numerous addresses listed at College Avenue in Mountmellick. McDonagh had previously appeared at the district court on April 11, where he faced a litany of charges:

On August 15 last year, at James Fintan Lawlor Avenue, Portlaoise, McDonagh was searched by gardaí and found to have a penknife in his pocket, which McDonagh claimed he used for fishing.

On December 15 last, in Irishtown, Mountmellick, McDonagh stole a Visa card.

He committed another theft on December 29, at Bankz Hair Salon, Portlaoise, where he stole a silver diamond ring.

On January 1 this year, McDonagh was charged with criminal damage and threatening behaviour, at College Avenue, Mountmellick, and obstruction, at the Portlaoise Garda Station. Gardaí, responding to a report of a disturbance at College Avenue, found McDonagh in an intoxicated state, shouting abuse and throwing beer cans at his partner. He also smashed a window. He was arrested and brought to the garda station, where, while the arresting officer was explaining to McDonagh his rights, McDonagh produced a small bag and swallowed it. The bag was later confirmed to have contained heroin.

McDonagh was charged with begging on two occasions, January 24, at Lyster Square, Portlaoise, and January 25, at Main Street, Portlaoise.

He was also charged with giving false information to the gardaí on two separate occasions in Portarlington on March 25.

There were also two charges of failing to appear in court, on February 13 and March 21.

As these offences were committed in breach of a suspended sentence imposed against him in November, Judge Catherine Staines sent McDonagh to the Criminal Court of Justice (CCJ) sitting on Friday, April 12, to deal with the suspended sentence.

When he appeared back before the court last week, McDonagh’s solicitor, Mr Philip Meagher told Judge Staines that the CCJ had made no order against McDonagh.

Judge Staines then imposed a four-month sentence on McDonagh, for the theft of the diamond ring. All other matters were taken into consideration. She said that the probation service will link in with McDonagh when he is released.

However, Mr Meagher said McDonagh has suffered with a serious heroin addiction for years.

“Matters spiralled out of control and he engaged in a lot of anti-social behaviour over the last few months,” Mr Meagher said.

Mr Meagher informed the judge that MccDonagh had completed a detox while in custody and was now “a transformed gentleman”.

Mr Meagher said that McDonagh is “almost next” on the waiting list for Coote Street addiction services in Portlaoise, although the probation service could not confirm whether this was true at last week’s court. Mr Meagher also handed in a letter to the court written by McDonagh’s partner, who has herself been engaging with Coote Street.

Judge Staines noted that the diamond ring had been recovered. She said that McDonagh had committed a large number of public order offences and had made a huge nuisance of himself, and she said she had huge concerns about releasing a drug addict who did not have a place secured at Coote Street.

The judge went on to say she was very impressed by the letter written by McDonagh’s partner and ruled that she was going to give McDonagh an opportunity. She imposed a ten-month sentence, suspended for three years on his own bond of €100. He must also abstain from alcohol and drugs.

“Commit one offence and you’ll go to prison,” warned the judge.