A PROMISING soccer player who stole hundreds of euro from the Redemptorist Church in Limerick during a three-week crime spree has avoided a prison sentence.
Anthony Lynch, aged 33, who is originally from Shanagolden in West Limerick admitted taking a votive box, which contained €600 in church donations, on December 28, 2011.
Lynch, who damaged the votive box beyond repair during the incident, was caught carrying it on the street minutes after taking it from the church.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing €110 from the holy water font on the same day and to breaking into St Michael’s Church, Pery Square on January 11, 2012.
Limerick Court was told Lynch, who has a “biological desire for alcohol” had committed a number of other theft offences during a three week period in December 2011 and January 2010.
Solicitor John Herbert said his client who played junior soccer when he was younger and has “battled with alcoholism” on and off since he was a teenager.
Insp Luke Conlon said Lynch, who has a number of previous convictions, had stolen 44 bottles of alcohol from the South Court Hotel, perfume worth €119 from Debenhams, and a Liverpool blanket from Guiney’s during the crime spree.
He also damaged two cars after breaking into the grounds of St Michael’s Church.
Mr Herbert said his client, who is a qualified welder, has been in rehab for the last year and that his family have been embarrassed and upset at his actions.
“They have been horrified,” said Mr Herbert, who said Lynch is currently living in Dundalk but intends to return to Limerick.
Judge O’Kelly commented that people had “not been putting money in the votive box to support his drinking habits” and he said it was a very mean crime.
The judge imposed a nine month prison sentence in relation to the theft of the votive box and its contents, which he suspended for 18 months on condition Lynch stays out of trouble during that time.
He adjourned sentencing in relation to the other matters to facilitate the completion of a community service report.
He indicated Lynch faces 240 hours community service in lieu of prison sentence.