A YOUNG man who dramatically escaped from custody last month as he was appearing in court on burglary charges was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.
Martin Whyte, aged 23, who has an address at Cois Na Coille, Murroe, jumped a security barrier and ran from the courtroom on January 2, last.
He had been brought before Limerick District Court after he was charged in connection with a break-in at Croker’s Pub and Restaurant, Murroe at around 3.30am on New Year’s morning.
After Mr Whyte escaped, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest and he was subsequently located in Ennis at around 4am the following day after he was arrested for public order offences.
This Wednesday, the defendant, who has 52 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to stealing around 80 boxes of cigarettes and €95 in coins from Croker’s Pub and Restaurant.
He also admitted causing around €1,600 worth of damage to a cigarette machine, two gaming machines and an internal door during the burglary.
Limerick District Court was told when the defendant was arrested in Annacotty a number of hours after the burglary, gardai recovered a significant amount of coinage from him.
Solicitor Sarah Ryan, representing Mr Whyte, said the break-in had been opportunistic and was not premeditated. “He saw a door open and he went inside with the intention of taking some drink,” she said, adding that he had made admissions and had “assisted gardai in the recovery of the stolen property”.
Ms Ryan said her client, who has been in custody since he was arrested in Ennis has an “addictive personality” and she added that he previously suffered from a heroin problem but later “turned to alcohol”.
Commenting about his escape from custody, Ms Ryan said he was annoyed that gardai had objected to his application for bail.
She told the court that nobody had been injured (during his escape) and that he has apologised to the garda who was duty in in the courtroom on the day.
She added that he was “easily detected” in Ennis as he was walking on a public street in the early hours of the morning.
Judge Marian O’Leary imposed a two-month prison sentence in relation to the burglary at Croker’s, which she ordered be served consecutively to a six-month suspended sentence which she activated.
That sentence was imposed last year in relation to a separate burglary offence.