'Black sheep' of family was high on heroin during burglary in Offaly
A MAN described as the black sheep of his family was high on drugs when he broke into an electronics shop in Edenderry and stole €13,960 worth of goods.
Judge Keenan Johnson told Robert Kelly, 34, that he could be sent to jail for five years for the burglary but instead he remanded him in custody until December 21 next and ordered him to avail of drug treatment services while in prison.
Mr Kelly admitted breaking into the Fone Geek store, JKL Street, Edenderry, between September 17 and September 18 last year.
Garda Denis Glennon told Tullamore Circuit Court that the owner Ali Raza made a complaint to gardai that he had left his premises on September 17 and locked up but the following morning he noticed the front door and a window were damaged.
Ten phones, eight laptops, memory sticks, phone holders and other items were taken and the till was open, with €150 cash missing. The hard drive had been pulled out of the CCTV system.
Garda Glennon said he found CCTV at a number of other locations on the street, including two pubs and an off licence and he identified Robert Kelly.
On the footage it appeared he had blood coming from a cut on his hand and he could be seen rubbing the cut with a paper and placing the paper in a bin outside Fone Geek. Garda Glennon said he retrieved the paper and gave it to the scenes of crime unit.
A scenes of crime garda also saw blood on a broken window pane and numerous other surfaces, including a window sill and door latch, along with the cash register. Swabs were sent to Forensic Science Ireland and there was a DNA match with Mr Kelly from the cash register.
Mr Kelly was arrested in Capel Street, Dublin on October 4 last and brought to Tullamore Garda Station for interview where he made a number of admissions about the break-in even though he could not remember it because he was “out of his head on drugs”.
Though he was originally from Fr Paul Murphy Street, Edenderry, he had been staying in a number of hostels in Dublin and on the day of the offence he had taken tablets and heroin. Asked where he sold the equipment he stole, he said “somewhere in Dublin” and he had received a few hundred euros for it. He remembered breaking the window and stealing the goods because he needed money for drugs and he would be okay if he had methadone.
Garda Glennon said the accused had 41 previous convictions and had been sentenced to three years at Limerick Circuit Court for a weapons possession offence in 2018.
He also had previous convictions for theft and burglary dating back to 2008 for which he had also been jailed.
Replying to defence counsel Suzanne Dooner, BL, Garda Glennon said Mr Kelly was out of jail for a year and a half at the time of the Fone Geek offence and had a chronic heroin addiction.
He agreed the accused was the black sheep of a large and very respectable family in Edenderry and could be very decent and respectful.
Ms Dooner said Mr Kelly was one of 10 children and would even describe himself as the black sheep. He left school not long before the Junior Certificate and was detained in St Patrick's Institution shortly afterwards.
Addiction seemed to be the root cause of his problems and at the time of the latest offence he had been asked to leave home because of his drug taking and because his family feared the people he was involved with. He ended up sleeping rough and for a period was staying in a tent in the Phoenix Park.
He was going to be put on suboxone instead of methadone and he wanted to turn his life around and show his parents that he could change.
Ms Dooner also said the accused's brother was prepared to give him work if he dealt with his addiction.
She said Mr Kelly, who had been in custody since February 4, was not a violent man but it was accepted he had a litany of previous convictions.
The court had earlier heard the businessman and only recently opened the shop which was burgled and the insurance he had was for a different store nearby.
Judge Johnson said he was hugely concerned that he needed to be compensated for the loss he had suffered which was huge for someone starting off in business.
“It's quite clear that drugs are his problem. As a consequence of his addiction he has spent most of the last 17 years out of jail and this is a complete aberration in his family,” said Judge Johnson.
He said that must be a huge upset to his family but nevertheless they continued to support him and the man had a girlfriend who was in court too.
In addition to ordering him to engage with drug treatment services, he said he would have to take out a loan of €14,000 and take up an offer of a job from his brother.
If he did not take the opportunity the court was offering him he would serve five years in jail.
“You have to look at this as an opportunity Mr Kelly to do the right thing,” said Judge Johnson.
The accused was remanded in custody at the Midlands Prison until December 21 next and at that stage the judge will consider imposing a suspended sentence.
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