A man with a drug addiction stole €800 in cash, a wide range of food items and a welding helmet from supermarkets in Portlaoise, this week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court heard.
Gerard Fennelly (43), 423 Market Mews, Maryborough Village, Portlaoise was charged with a number of thefts from supermarkets and a local bank on eight separate dates in 2020.
In one incident at Ulster Bank on James Fintan Lalor Avenue, the defendant stole a handbag belonging to a customer which contained €800 in cash and a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone valued at €450.
In the other thefts from supermarkets, including Dunnes Stores, Aldi and Lidl, the defendant stole items including baby food, value €55, select beef from Aldi, value €84 and 8 packets of meat, value €40.50.
On another occasion the defendant stole a welding helmet from Lidl, valued at €32.
The items stolen from supermarkets came to approximately €380 in total.
The court heard the defendant has over 50 previous convictions, 37 of which were for theft.
Defence solicitor Barry Fitzgerald said the defendant has a lot of good qualities.
A father of five children, Mr Fitgerald said the thefts were “symptomatic of someone desperately trying to feed themself.”
The defendant has struggled with addiction and has been dealing with the Merchants Quay treatment centre.
In the incident relating to the items in the handbag, the injured party had left the bag behind and the defendant had been opportunistic.
When Judge Catherine Staines asked the defendant what he was going to do with himself,he replied: “I have to get myself clean. I can’t be tormenting you and tormenting myself”.
A 10-month prison sentence was imposed on the defendant, the last four of which were suspended.
Judge Staines hoped that while in prison, the Probation Service would work with the defendant.
Judge Staines directed that €1,000 be paid to the victim whose cash and phone was stolen, from the court poor box.
“I apologise to the court and to that lady as well,” the defendant said.