A MAN who was removing copper pipe from a house due to be demolished under the Limerick Regeneration programme hid behind a couch when gardai arrived on the scene.
Jonathan Curtin, 21, of Yeats Avenue, Kincora Park, pleaded guilty at Limerick District Court to burglary and to possession of a bolt cutters at Mountain View, O’Malley Park, on January 30, 2011.
Inspector Paul Reidy said gardai had received a report at around 7pm of a man removing copper pipe from the vacant property and putting it in a wheelie bin. Officers found “a large bolt-cutters at the doorway” and on entering the house discovered Curtin “hiding behind a couch”.
Curtin maintained he had been given permission to remove the metal by contractors.
“Mr Curtin has advised me that he was working at the time on an ad hoc basis for builders demolishing houses for the Limerick Regeneration programme. He asked and was allegedly told by the builder he could take the copper. Needless to say, I told Mr Curtin they had no authority to tell him that,” said his solicitor John Devane.
The property was “being used as a dosshouse” in advance of demolition, Mr Devane said.
“If he thought he was legitimately on the premises, why was he hiding behind a couch?”, asked Judge Eugene O’Kelly.
“Panic, judge,” replied Mr Devane, adding Curtin had apologised to the gardai for the “misunderstanding”.
Curtin has a total of 108 previous convictions, the majority for motoring offences.
Judge O’Kelly noted the incident had not happened late at night and indicated he was prepared to give Curtin a chance. He was remanded on continuing bail to appear before the court again on November 8 for a probation report.