Church burglar avoids prison term on appeal

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Limerick Courthouse
A MAN who was jailed for three months for his involvement in break-ins at a number of churches in County Limerick has had the sentences suspended on appeal.

A MAN who was jailed for three months for his involvement in break-ins at a number of churches in County Limerick has had the sentences suspended on appeal.

Simon O’Connor, 45, of Highfield, Buttevant, County Cork, was part of a three-member gang who raided churches at Bulgaden, Effin, Rockhill, Ballingaddy and Martinstown on three dates between September 4 and October 29 last year.

At an appeal hearing at Limerick Circuit Court in April, Judge Carroll Moran heard that €100 was stolen from a collection box in Bulgaden on October 29 and that €140 taken from a safe at Effin Church on September 28. Nothing was stolen from the other churches but sacristies were “ransacked” at all three, state solicitor Aidan Judge said on that date.

Mr O’Connor was sentenced to three months in prison for theft and a number of three-month sentences for burglary were also imposed, all to run concurrently, when he pleaded guilty before Judge Mary O’Halloran at Kilmallock Court.

He duly appealed the sentences as excessive for somebody with no previous convictions.

The court had previously heard that Mr O’Connor was an unemployed man who cared for his elderly parents. His actions had been “stupid and very much out of character”, while there may have been “an element of his being easily led”.

This Tuesday, Mr Judge said he could not dispute an assertion by Eimear Carey BL that Mr O’Connor had not come to the attention of gardai in the last six months.

Noting his previous good record, Judge Carroll Moran affirmed the penalties imposed on Mr O’Connor by the District Court but suspended the terms of imprisonment for one year, binding him to the peace.