A 27-YEAR-OLD man who stole a handbag from a motorist stopped at the Kilmallock Road roundabout was guilty of a “nasty and mean crime”, Judge Eugene O’Kelly has said at Limerick District Court.
The judge observed that this was the second case to come before the court of late - both in the same general area - which involved “ladies driving and slowing down and roundabouts only to have their car doors opened and property stolen”.
“If this is going to become a trend, people will become wary of driving in the vicinity and the message has to go out that this is something that the court cannot and will not tolerate,” said Judge O’Kelly.
Michael Casey, Clonlong halting site, Southill, pleaded guilty to theft of a handbag and its contents – the property of Margaret Ryan with a total value of €446 – at Childers Road on January 11, 2012.
Inspector Seamus Nolan set out that the woman had come to a stop at the Kilmallock Road roundabout at around 6.20pm. Casey had opened the passenger door and taken off on foot with the driver’s bag, which contained a small amount of cash. An off-duty garda happened to be in the area and set off in pursuit of the accused, who was duly arrested.
“But for the fact that an off-duty garda was in the area, he presumably would not have been detected and others would have been encouraged to engage in this activity,”Judge O’Kelly said.
Casey, the court heard, has accumulated over 70 previous convictions and was handed a nine-month suspended sentence at Limerick District Court in April of this year. The judge noted, however, that the theft at the roundabout predated this conviction.
Solicitor Chris Lynch said Casey, a father-of-two, was attempting to deal with a “long and difficult struggle with alcohol”. A sister of the accused had died only a matter of days before the theft offence and Casey had “gone off the rails” as a result.
Judge O’Kelly adjourned sentencing to November 8, remanding Casey on bail to that date. Sentencing would be “heavily influenced” by whether or not Casey pays €500 in compensation to Margaret Ryan by that date, the judge said.