'Sword of Damocles' over man who robbed Ballyroan NS

'Sword of Damocles' over man who robbed Ballyroan NS
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An Abbeyleix man sentenced to 12 months in jail for a number of burglaries in Ballyroan, including robbing a laptop from the local national school, has been given community service and suspended jail sentences after appealing the matter at Portlaoise Circuit Court.

Shane Lawlor, with an address at Cashel, Abbeyleix, was convicted of four offences between November 3 and November 7, 2017.

When the case first came before Portlaoise District Court in January, Inspector Ger Glavin said there were a number of burglaries in the Ballyroan area.

In one burglary, a 22” TV and prescription medication was taken.

In another, the accused entered Ballyroan NS and stole items including a HP laptop.

In the third burglary, the accused stole a Dell laptop, a tablet, TV remotes and a broadband router.

Insp Glavin also gave evidence the accused was found in possession of articles which could be used in a burglary, including gloves.

In total, goods worth €2,550 were taken and it was not all recovered.

The accused had 17 previous convictions.

During sentencing in the district court, Judge Catherine Staines said that burglary was a very serious offence and people are entitled to feel safe in their own homes.

“It’s absolutely terrifying for people to think people are going into their homes to steal things,” she said.

Ruling that she had mark the seriousness of the offences, Judge Staines imposed 12 months in prison. Lawlor then appealed this sentence at the circuit court.

When the appeal came before the circuit court recently, Garda Quinlan gave evidence that the stolen TV was handed into an electronics store where it was identified as having been stolen during the burglary.

When arrested, the appellant was found with a pair of gloves on his person which he admitted he had used in the course of a burglary.

Defence, Ms Louise Troy said her client had a long-term drug habit, but is now clean and attending Coote Street.

All the stolen items were recovered, apart from two bottles of alcohol and some medication.

She said his drug habit had blighted his life for almost the last ten years and this arrest was a wake up call for him.

Defence said he is now on a very low dose of methadone and is back playing football with Ballyroan.

The appellant had written a letter of apology and had €500 compensation in court.

Judge Keenan Johnson said these were nasty offences which warranted a prison sentence and the district court had been perfectly right to impose the sentence.

The judge said he was satisfied the appellant had made a genuine and strenuous effort to turn his life around, however to “keep the sword of Damocles over him” the judge adjourned the matter to June 27 for a probation report and to see if the appellant is suitable for community service.

On one burglary charge, the judge imposed 240 hours’ community service, and he suspended the other sentences for seven years on condition the appellant enter into a peace bond and remain drug free.

Judge Johnson also directed that the €500 compensation go to the Ballyroan Tidy Towns group.