An Abbeyleix man who disturbed and frightened sleeping children when he broke into their Durrow home and stole their Christmas presents has been given the benefit of the probation act, having paid compensation and applied to join the Irish Army.
Joseph Murphy, with an address at Tullyroe, Abbeyleix, broke into a house at the Derry Road, Durrow, on December 31 last, and went into a bedroom where a 13-year-old and a five-year-old were sleeping.
The children were disturbed by the intruder, who shone a light at the 13-year-old. The accused took an Xbox, games and a laptop from the room, then made his way to another room where two more children were sleeping and stole a phone and a Playstation controller.
Murphy also stole a number of unwrapped Christmas presents.
In total, goods worth €1,200 were taken from the house. Murphy then went into the neighbouring property and stole a phone worth €180 from a parked car.
The case first came before Portlaoise District Court in February, where Murphy paid €820 compensation, and then returned to court in May, where Judge Catherine Staines directed the accused to complete the Athy Alternative Project for his possible drug problem.
At last week’s court, defence, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client had paid €1,380 compensation and had passed his medical assessment to join the army.
Judge Staines said it was a very serious matter and she did have a prison sentence in mind, but noted that he had no previous convictions for offences like this, had cooperated, and had dealt with his drug and alcohol problems.
She also said he had applied to join the army and had a good chance of getting in.
She said he was very fortunate that the court was going to treat this offence as an aberration.
The judge applied the probation act, section 1.1.