'Carrot and stick' for 22-year-old who kicked in apartment doors in Portarlington

'Carrot and stick' for 22-year-old who kicked in apartment doors in Portarlington

A 22-year-old man sentenced to jail for six months for burgling apartments after kicking in the doors has had the sentence suspended on appeal by Portlaoise Circuit Court.

Before the court was Luke Dunne (22), Canal Court, Portarlington.

He previously appeared before the district court in March, where he was given a six month sentence by Judge Catherine Staines.

During the appeal against the sentence at the circuit court recently, State solicitor, Mr Donal Dunne gave evidence that on January 4 this year, a number of apartment doors were kicked in at Huguenot House Apartments in Portarlington.

The appellant, Luke Dunne, and two other males were found inside one of the apartments with a number of items in the floor.

The appellant was searched and a machete type knife was found on him, hidden in his underwear.

Another apartment was also broken into and property was disturbed, said Mr Dunne.

The appellant was arrested and made admissions to the gardaí.

The appellant had 16 previous convictions.

Defence, barrister Ms Louise Troy said the appellant’s friend had lived in an apartment in the complex and the appellant and other friends would sometimes stay there.

The two nearby apartments broken into were in a dilapidated state and unoccupied, said Ms Troy.

Defence went on to say that the machete her client had was one found in the apartment

She said the appellant had cooperated fully with the gardaí.

The appellant, originally from Clondalkin, now had the promise of a job and had brought €235 compensation to court.

He deeply apologised, said Ms Troy, and had made positive rehabilitative efforts.

Judge Keenan Johnson asked the State were the apartments dilapidated, to which he was informed that the landlord had secured the apartments but the State did not have a note whether the apartments were dilapidated.

The apartments were unoccupied at the time.

Judge Johnson said that kicking in doors like this was a serious offence.

He noted that the appellant was a young man with a considerable number of previous convictions, mostly for drugs and road traffic matters.

Saying he would adopt the “carrot and stick approach”, Judge Johnson increased the sentence from six months to nine months, and suspended it for five years on condition the appellant enter a peace bond.

The judge also directed that the €235 compensation go to the owner of the apartments, and ordered the appellant to make a donation to the local branch of the St Vincent de Paul within 12 months.

When the original six-month sentence was imposed in the district court, Judge Catherine Staines declared: “Kicking in someone’s door and stealing their property is not acceptable.”

She said that Dunne had appeared before her on numerous occasions and she had given him opportunities before.

Defence, Mr Declan Breen said that a friend of the accused had been renting an apartment in a building which was in bad need of repair, with a large number of apartments derelict. His friend, with whom the accused occasionally stayed, had difficulties with his landlord and a dispute over rent arose.

On the day of the offence the accused left the building with friends, but came back and on the way through the building they randomly went into an apartment.

Mr Breen said this was a spur of the moment decision. A radio and speakers were in one of the apartments, which the accused did not know about until he went in. He had no intention to steal, said Mr Breen, but the accused was pleading to trespassing.

Mr Breen said the accused had moved to Laois from Clondalkin at the age of ten, later becoming involved in the drug scene.