A MAN who stole the identity credentials of a garda from his private car was sentenced to five months imprisonment.
John O’Neill, aged 39, of New Crescent Halting Site, Childers Road admitted stealing the credentials during the early hours of June 25, 2011.
Limerick Court was told the theft happened at around 12.40am at the Travelodge Hotel on the Dublin Road.
Sergeant Donal Cronin said the defendant smashed the rear window of the car with a block before taking a number of items including the off-duty garda’s credentials.
Around €2,000 worth of damage was caused to the car during the incident, the court heard.
Solicitor Sarah Ryan said her client did not know he had stolen a garda badge as he did not realise he had broken into a car which belonged to a garda,
Ms Ryan added that there had been no attempt on her client’s part to use the credentials.
Imposing sentence, Judge Eugene O’Kelly said he viewed the offence very seriously.
He said members of the public must have confidence that those who produce garda credentials are bona-fide gardai.
While accepting that Mr O’Neill had not used the credentials in a sinister way he said they could have fallen into somebody else’s hands.
“Vulnerable, gullible people could have been taken in by it, I regard it as extremely serious,” he said.
During the same court sitting, Mr O’Neill pleaded guilty to a number of other theft offences.
He admitted stealing a pair of industrial rubber gloves, worth €15, from the Odeon cinema in Castletroy on January 22, last.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing a number of items from a car which was parked at the Castletroy Park Hotel on the same night as he stole the garda credentials.
Mr O’Neill, the court heard, also broke into a commercial premises at the Childers Road Industrial Estate on May 30, 2011.
Sgt Cronin said he entered the premises through a skylight and stole a digital camera, which was subsequently recovered by gardai.
In mitigation, Ms Ryan said her client, who has 42 previous convictions, has had a problem with alcohol from a young age but is currently attending counselling.
She told the court, Mr O’Neill has not come to the attention of gardai for almost two years.
The judge imposed a five month prison sentence in relation to the theft of the garda credentials.
He imposed separate four month prison sentences in relation to the other offences but suspended them for 18 months.
Leave to appeal the severity of the sentences was granted.