A convicted sex offender who burgled three homes in a gated retirement complex in the middle of lockdown has been jailed for 45 months.
Felix Moorehouse (19) of West Pier Halting Site, Dun Laoghaire, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three burglaries and an attempted burglary at the Dublin complex on January 14th, 2021.
The court heard that each of the residents was over 90 years old and two of the victims met Moorehouse when he was in their home. Cash, bank cards, expensive jewellery of sentimental value and a phone were stolen.
Moorehouse has 25 previous convictions, including one for sexual assault, which was dealt with in 2018 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and resulted in a ten-month jail term.
Judge Martin Nolan noted that despite garda evidence that this was a gated residence with signage indicating it was a retirement complex, Moorehouse does not accept he was aware that it was housing for older people when he burgled it.
He said as Moorehouse encountered two women in their own homes, "who were cocooning at the time and not in a position to meet their children, grandchildren or friends", the incident must have "particularly upsetting".
Judge Nolan acknowledged evidence from Moorehouse’s mother that he was under the influence of his father, who has an extensive criminal record but added “at a certain point everyone is a master of their own destiny”.
“He knows that it is wrong to burgle and to burgle old people is particularly wrong,” the judge said.
“I think there is hope for rehabilitation but does he have the stomach for it, I am not sure,” Judge Nolan said before he suspended the final 15 months of a five-year prison sentence on condition that Moorehouse engage with the probation service for 15 months upon his ultimate release from prison.
Garda Deirdre Finn told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that the first victim spotted Moorehouse in her bedroom. He had gone through all her drawers and presses and took a ring belonging to her mother and her phone.
'I just wanted to see the place'
The victim had spotted Moorehouse earlier wandering around the complex carrying a watering can and believed he was a son of one of the residents.
The second victim was sitting in a chair in her sitting room with her eyes closed when Moorehouse appeared out of her bedroom.
She asked him “where did you come from” and the burglar replied: “I’m new, I just wanted to see the place”.
Moorehouse took five rings from the woman, which included three eternity rings belonging to herself, her mother and her sister. He also took her handbag and all her bank cards and cash. He later withdrew cash from her bank account.
He broke into a third home but did not take anything and tried to break into a fourth residence.
Gda Finn said Moorehouse was identified from CCTV footage in the complex, which showed him climbing over the front gate of the premises before walking around the complex. He was also captured entering some of the homes.
He was arrested but nothing of evidential value came out of his subsequent interviews with gardaí.
Moorehouse’s mother took the stand and told Judge Nolan that she separated from her son’s father 16 years ago, but as a child he would constantly return to his father every weekend.
“On the Monday I would have to collect him from the Garda station. The trouble he was getting into with his father’s people,” she told Justin McQuade BL, defending.
She said her son was very good at school and would behave during the week, but would spend most weekends with his father who was a chronic heroin addict.
Mr McQuade suggested to Judge Nolan that his client was heavily influenced by his father, who has a history of a lifetime offending behaviour and said that he needs help once he is released from prison.