05 Jul 2022

Caught with stolen property from former employer at Laois home

Case heard in Dublin Circuit Court

mountmellick laoios

Man claims it was damaged and not fit for sale.

A man who was caught with 25 large boxes of stolen stock from his former employer when gardaí arrived at his County Laois home to execute a European arrest warrant has avoided a jail term.

Robert Wojtanowicz (41) told gardaí that he thought that he had permission to take the stock because it was damaged and not fit for sale.

A statement, which was later provided to gardaí from the company, K and S Industrial Supplies, “categorically stated” that this was not the case and the items were in perfect condition for sale.

Wojtanowicz of Grange Hall, Mountmellick pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to have the items, valued at €19,847, being reckless as to whether they were stolen, at his home on August 22, 2017.

Garda Shane Barry said the European arrest warrant in existence for Wojtanowicz related to a number of road traffic offences. These four road traffic offences date back to 2012 and are for minor offences. Wojtanowicz has no other previous convictions.

Garda Barry told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting that a colleague arrived at the man’s home to execute the warrant and noticed a large number of boxes in the property. Wojtanowicz was not home at the time and he called back later that day.

He executed the warrant and searched the property when it was discovered the boxes contained a large amount of industrial workwear.

Garda Barry said Wojtanowicz’s former employer was contacted and confirmed that it was their property and Wojtanowicz had no permission to take it. The items were ultimately returned to the company.

Wojtanowicz worked with the company from January 2016 until April 2016 and again from September 2016 until June 2017.

Garda Barry agreed with Kieran Kelly BL, defending that Wojtanowicz still claims it was his understanding that he could take the stock because it was damaged and deemed unfit for the market. 

Mr Kelly said his client has two sons from two separate relationships who are 21 and 14 years old. He has been working for himself in the building industry, pays his taxes and pays maintenance for his children.

Counsel handed in a number of testimonials from Wojtanowicz’s current employers and neighbours who described him as diligent, reliable and helpful.

Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Wojtanowicz to two years in prison but suspended it on strict conditions.

She commended the gardaí for their work in noticing the stock in the first instance and said she didn’t accept that Wojtanowicz believed he had the property legitimately.

“I consider this to be a very mean offence,” Judge Codd said before she acknowledged that Wojtanowicz had “significant mitigation” in terms of his co-operation and lack of serious previous convictions.

“There has to be a deterrence for offences of this nature. It was down to the good work of the gardaí that the stock was returned,” Judge Codd said, before she suspended a two-year term in full.

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