Return to England or go to prison

AN Englishman, who moved to Portarlington to be with his girlfriend, was told to leave the country or spend the next six months in prison.

AN Englishman, who moved to Portarlington to be with his girlfriend, was told to leave the country or spend the next six months in prison.

Jason Gallagher, 72 Crann Nua, Portarlington, was charged with five separate counts of burglary on five separate occasion from different stores in Portarlington and Portlaoise.

Inspector Martin Harrington outlined Gallager’s crime spree, which involved four charges of theft and two for burglary.

On February 23, Gallagher smashed a front window of Burbage’s Supermarket, Main Street, Portarlington and stole cigarettes and tobacco to the valuie of €1,200.

On March 20, he was charged with taking alcohol to the value of €5,000 from Super Valu, Port. He also smashed the front window of the store, which cost €6,000 to repair.

The court heard that on March 17, Gallagher took groceries and other items to the value of €150 from Aldi, Portarlington and on March 20 took groceries valued at €300 from Lidl, Canal Road, Portarlington.

Gallagher also stole Blu Ray DVDs, valued at €174.90 from Xtra Vision, Bull Lane, Portlaoise and a bottle of West Coast Cooler and a can of Lager with a total value of €11.75 from Dunnes Stores, Klye Centre, Portlaoise on April 20.

He had no previous convictions in Ireland, and after enquiring with the authorities in England, Inspector Harrington told the court he had a clean record there too.

Defending, Josephine Fitzpatrick, said the 22-year-old had only been living in the country a few months and had moved over from England to live with his girlfriend in Portarlington.

She acknowledged that there was a concern over the number of offences in such a short space of time.

“He came to live with his girlfriend and became involved in this wanton destruction,” she explained.

Ms Fitzpatrick said there was a co-accused with Gallagher, who had not been a good influence.

She also told the court that some of the alcohol and groceries had been recovered.

Following an adjournment of the case to find out if there was any previous conviction in England, Judge Catherine Staines asked the defendant if he had any interest in going back there, to which he replied ‘no.’

“You haven’t made a good start in Ireland,” she said.

The defending solicitor said Gallagher had been in contact with his family in England and would be able to offer some compensation in the next week.

Gallagher told the court that he would be able to get a loan from family members in the next month.

Describing his actions as a ‘thieving rampage’, Judge Staines said if the defendant was prepared to leave the jurisdiction, she would not impose a prision sentence.

However, if Gallagher was not prepared to leave the country he would be facing six months in prison.

Judge Staines adjourned the case for one week to allow Gallagher to decide what he wanted to do.