07 Aug 2022

Laois man stole DVDs and cash for drugs in 'desperately sad' case

theft and assault

Laois man stole DVDs and cash for drugs in 'desperately sad' case

A Laois man who grabbed a woman by the throat in her own home before he stole a bag containing cash and DVDs has been given a ten-month jail sentence with the last four suspended.

At Portlaoise District Court, Sean McHugh (24), Apt 4, Block A, Barrow Mews, Portarlington, was charged with assault and theft.

Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on September 28 last, at the Maisonettes, Portarlington, the accused came in through a window and grabbed a woman by her throat, before he stole her handbag containing €30 and DVDs.

The two parties knew each other through social circles, said Sgt Kirby.

Defence, Mr Barry Fitzgerald said that the accused had a turbulent relationship with his mother and there were alcohol issues. He said the accused has an intellectual disability as well as ADHD, which is a result of foetal alcohol syndrome. The accused also has a dependence on benzodiazepine which has a volatile effect on him, he said.

On the date of the offence, the accused had been at a party with the injured party before she went back to her house. He stole the items to try to get money for drugs, said Mr Fitzgerald, who told the court that the accused had claimed to be “out of (his) head on tablets” at the time.

Mr Fitzgerald said the accused had now engaged with Merchants Quay and needs treatment.

Judge Catherine Staines said this was a desperately sad situation. She said she had come across the accused some years ago when he was still a child and it was clear he now required supported living accommodation. She said he is easily manipulated and living in totally unsuitable accommodation, taking drugs and alcohol and prone to violence.

She noted that the accused had been assessed at a high risk of coming to serious harm and causing harm and said that the court had to impose a sentence.

Judge Staines imposed a ten-month sentence, with the last four months suspended for the accused to remain under probation supervision. She said the probation services were to contact the HSE about arranging supported living accommodation for the accused.

Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.

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