Two burglars in a “pre-meditated spree of crimes” broke into the home of an 83-year-old woman shining torches in her bedroom and telling her they were gardaí looking for burglars.
One of the accused men — 27-year-old Christopher Jones — was sentenced to five years in prison, consecutive to one year he is already serving and with the last year of the five years suspended.
Detective Sergeant Joe Young gave evidence at the sentencing hearing for Jones at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. “This was a spree of planned and pre-meditated burglaries,” Det Sgt Young said.
Niamh Ó Donnabháin, defending, disagreed and said the crimes were chaotic, opportunistic, and at the time he was leading a turbulent life in hostel accommodations. She said that recently, “He got compassionate release from prison because of the murder of his uncle, and his mother was arrested for that murder.”
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said,
“The fact that they confronted people in their own homes is an aggravating factor. There was no actual violence shown to anyone.”
The judge said that notwithstanding the chaos in the defendant’s life he and his accomplice had the presence of mind to offload €1,600 of the cash stolen from the elderly woman to a third party in an effort to put it beyond the reach of gardaí.
Evidence was given of several burglaries. In respect of the home of the 83-year-old woman at Tyrone Place, Windmill Road, Cork, Det Sgt Young said it occurred at around 3am.
“The 83-year-old woman was cocooning at the time as part of the national lockdown. She woke to find two men carrying what she described as lamps in her bedroom. They said they were members of An Garda Síochána in the area looking for burglars.
“They asked her where she kept her money. She was in fear at the time. €2,500 in cash was taken, and €200 that she had in a Confirmation card for her grandson,” Det Sgt Young said.
A further €80 was also taken before the two intruders left her house. It was estimated that this ordeal went on for four minutes.
The accused was arrested 12 hours later having been identified on CCTV. Jones had €140 in cash on him at the time of his arrest. The other €1,600 referred to as having been given to a relative of the accomplice was also recovered.
Jones was interviewed five times in relation to several burglaries carried out around this time. It was only in the last few minutes of the fifth interview that he made certain admissions about this particular burglary, Det Sgt Young said.
In another one of the burglaries carried out around this time, Det Sgt Young said they carried baseball bats but nobody was physically assaulted in the course of the crime.
As well as pleading guilty to burglaries, Jones also confessed to impersonating a member of An Garda Síochána and carrying out an aggravated burglary at Great William O’Brien St, Cork, on April 9, when he was carrying a baseball bat.
He also signed pleas of guilty to charges of carrying out five other burglaries of houses on High Street, Frankfield Villas, O’Connor Ville, and Tyrone Place in Cork, all on the night of April 16/17, 2020.
Det Sgt Young said Jones apologised, in particular to the elderly woman.
Jones was sentenced on the five burglary charges, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of impersonating a police officer.
A young couple wrote in a victim impact statement that they would not have expected that they would ever see themselves as crime victims but the burglary did have a bad effect on them. Another victim said he had moved house as a result of the burglary. The 83-year-old woman did not make a victim impact statement.