A MAN who stole a crucifix worth €1,000 from the Redemptorists Church was not seeking financial gain but merely wanted to decorate a shrine he had erected to a deceased friend at their homeless shelter, Limerick District Court has heard.
Sgt Donal Cronin said that Mark Mulcaire, 35, with an address at McGarry House, Alphonsus Street, was drunk when he carried out the offence and had actually abandoned the valuable artefact a short distance from the church on Henry Street.
Mr Mulcaire pleaded guilty to having stolen the crucifix, the property of Fr Adrian Egan, on April 24. A wide search of the surrounding area had resulted in its recovery, Sgt Cronin told Judge Eugene O’Kelly. A review of CCTV evidence had identified Mr Mulcaire as a suspect and he made full admissions when later questioned by gardai.
“He did say that he was intoxicated at the time and indicated that he had suffered a personal loss in a friend who had passed away,” said Sgt Cronin.
This friend, Mr Mulcaire’s solicitor John Herbert said, was Eduardas Stankevicius, a Latvian who had moved to Limerick and ended up living in the same homeless shelter where Mr Mulcaire is resident.
The deceased was described as somebody “well-known to the District Court particularly for section 4 (intoxication in a public place)”.
Mulcaire had gone into the Redemptorists “to light a candle to the memory of his friend who had just passed way”.
“He has a photo of Eduardas Stankevicius at his home. He wanted to enhance that shrine and he took the crucifix,” Mr Herbert said.
Judge O’Kelly asked Sgt Cronin whether the state was satisfied Mr Mulcaire had no financial motivation or whether the object had been stolen “out of some form of religious devotion”.
Sgt Cronin replied it was the “state’s case that this was not a hugely well thought-out enterprise”. Had he intended to make a personal gain, Mr Mulcaire would not have abandoned the crucifix a short distance away from the church.
Mr Herbert said his client was originally from a provincial town but had lived in Limerick for a number of years as he was no longer welcome at home. He had at various times been homeless and addicted to heroin but was now clean of that drug.
“The sergeant,” said Judge O’Kelly, “has very fairly stated that this wasn’t a theft for the purpose of making a gain and I would see it in a far more serious light if a church was being stolen from for the purposes of making such a gain.”
He canvassed Probation and Welfare to assess Mr Mulcaire’s suitability for 60 hours of community service in lieu of two months in prison.
“Mr Stankevicius’ memory would have been just as well served with a simple wooden cross rather than stealing one from the Redemptorists,” Judge O’Kelly said to the accused, adjourning the case for preparation of a report from the probation service.