The actions of three Laois men caught with a stolen jeep and trailer containing various items stolen during a number of burglaries have “contributed to the destruction of trust in rural Ireland.”
So said Judge Keenan Johnson, in the sentencing of Thomas McInerney (40), Twomey Park, Mountmellick; William McInerney (37), Newline Close, Mountrath; and Gerard McInerney (38), Moanbaun Close, Mountrath.
“The items in respect of which the accused have pleaded guilty to having possession of were stolen in different robberies from different farms over a three-week period,” said Judge Keenan.
“While there is no evidence that the accused perpetrated the robberies and the court will certainly not sentence on that basis, nevertheless the court cannot but be conscious of the fact that without people like the accused to take possession of stolen goods, the perpetrators of such robberies and burglaries would find it much more difficult to operate.”
He went on to say that the culpability of the receiver or possessor of stolen property is often equated with the culpability of the person who perpetrated the robbery or theft.
“The court is acutely conscious of the plague of robberies and burglaries that are afflicting rural Ireland and in particular farms on the Midlands Circuit,” he continued.
“The growth of these types of burglaries and robberies are an attack on the foundations of rural society. Rural Ireland has traditionally been built on trust, which permitted farm machinery, livestock and tools to be left unsecured in sheds and unoccupied farmyards. Unfortunately, in recent years due to an upsurge in robberies and burglaries, that trust has now been completely and utterly shattered.
“Farmers are now obliged to secure all of their property, including livestock, machinery and tools. It is a sad state of affairs that it has come to this,” he said.
“There can be no doubt, but that the types of offences to which the accused pleaded guilty have contributed to the destruction of trust in rural Ireland.”
Judge Johnson said the court was mindful that in structuring a sentence, it could not be seen to unfairly punish the accused for the actions of others. However, the court could impose a significant sentence to ensure it contained an appropriate deterrent element.