A BMW with false licence plates was used in a spate of robberies across Portarlington, in which a haul of goods including mobile phones and sat navs were all stolen from parked cars.
Arising from the robberies, at last week’s District Court a Dublin man was charged with two counts of possessing stolen property.
Lee Dillon, 36 Turnapin Cottages, Cloughran, Dublin 9, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which related to incidents at Cooltaderry and Lough Gate, Portarlington, on April 16.
The injured parties, Mr Shane Trainor and Mr Martin Havill, both gave evidence.
Mr Trainor said his black Mercedes was parked at the Portarlington Leisure Centre on that date while he was playing football and he was notified by a staff member that the car had been broken into. The window was smashed and his iPhone, valued at €400, was taken.
Mr Havill said his Audi was parked at Gracefield GAA grounds while he was watching a football match and when he returned to his car, he found that his sat nav, charger, wallet and Credit Union books had all been taken.
The court heard from Detective Garda Gerard Galwey and Detective Garda Eoin Maher.
Det Galwey said they were on mobile patrol when they received a call about a car having been broken into at the Killenard Golf Club. There was a report of a silver BMW having been used and the gardaí observed the car heading toward a housing estate. Det Galwey said he could see the vehicle had been “fiddled with”, as there were licence plates which were held on by elastic. When the BMW stopped, Dillon, who was the passenger in the car along with the driver, got out and looked into the window of a vacant house, before he returned to the car. When the gardaí spoke to the two men in the BMW, they observed a number of items on the floor.
Det Maher said that he observed a sat nav and a number of phones in the footwell of the passenger side of the BMW, where Dillon was sitting. Among the items found in the car were a Nokia C2 phone, an Apple iPhone, a Samsung camera, an O2 Blackberry, an iPod, a jewellery box, a bottle of Gaultier aftershave, two screwdrivers, black leather gloves and a small hammer used for breaking glass. The sat nav and the iPhone were subsequently identified as the property of Mr Havill and Mr Trainor.
The court heard that the driver pleaded guilty to theft, but Det Galwey said the man was adamant he was only going to implicate himself. When the gardaí interviewed Dillon, he made no admissions.
At the conclusion of State evidence, defence solicitor for Dillon made a submission to Judge Catherine Staines with two references to case law. He said that the State had not proved that his client knew the items were either stolen or even in the car and he pointed out that there were no fingerprints found matching Dillon’s.
Judge Staines said that the sat nav had been reported stolen and then 15 minutes later it was found on the floor of the BMW. She described this as “strong circumstantial evidence” and said she was satisfied Dillon had known the items in the car were stolen.
As Dillon, who has 24 previous convictions, was in breach of a suspended sentence, the matter was sent to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last Friday and will return to the local District Court on September 6 for sentencing.