‘Professional’ Limerick burglar jailed

David Hurley


David Hurley

Colin Culhane (right) was sentenced to five years imprisonment

A CHRONIC heroin addict who admitted carrying out a spree of burglaries across the city centre has been sentenced to five years imprisonment.

Earlier this year, Colin Culhane, aged 34, who has an address at McGarry House, Alphonsus Street, pleaded guilty to eight counts of burglary relating to offences which happened over an eight month period last year.

The break-ins happened on dates between February 3, and September 29, 2014.

During a sentencing hearing, Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the defendant, who has more than 70 previous convictions, broke into a number of private residents as well as an office on Henry Street and Mary Immaculate College.

Detective Garda Ger Healy said none of premises were occupied at the time and that property such as cash, alcohol, jewellery and electronics were stolen.

In one case, jewellery worth more than €14,000 was stolen while several of the premises were ransacked.

Following one incident, gardai identified Culhane as a suspect after he was observed by an off-duty detective emptying a bag of coins into a converter machine at a shop.

“Gardai put two and two together and joined up the dots,” said John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting.

Brian McInerney BL, defending, said his client had made “full and frank” admissions relating to all of the offences - despite the lack of any other evidence.

He said Culhane is a “pitiful type character” but is a reasonable individual when he is off heroin.

Last week, Mr O’Sullivan told the court the defendant was on bail when he committed the final two offences.

He added that he was the subject of separate suspended sentences at the time.

“There is no doubt the offences now before the court were committed during the period of suspension,” said Mr O’Sullivan who made an application to have the sentences activated under the provisions of Section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Judge O’Donnell was told Culhane was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in 2011 with the final three years suspended.

However, having considered the matter, the judge said he was not going to reactivate the suspended sentences.

Imposing sentence in relation to the 2014 offences, he said “severe emotional distress and trauma” had been caused to the owners of the properties.

He described Culhane as a “professional burglar” and a recidivist and said his previous record and the number of offences before the court were aggravating factors.

He noted the defendant had sold almost all of the stolen property to fuel his drug habit but that he is making efforts to deal with his addictions in custody.

He said a lengthy prison sentence was warranted in the case but that it had to be proportionate.

He imposed consecutive sentences totalling seven years’ imprisonment, but suspended the final two years.

All of the sentences were back-dated to April 1, 2014.