A Foxford man who appeared before Castlebar Circuit Court charged with burglary, theft and arson has been found not guilty on all three counts by a jury.
The jury of seven women and five men took just 39 minutes to find Jake Smyth (19) of The Ferns, Stonehall, Foxford not guilty on all counts after a two day trial last week.
Mr Smyth had been accused of trespassing in the house of Sarah O’Brien at 5, The Arches, Foxford on April 21, 2011 and stealing her car keys and, subsequently, her 1997 Ford Fiesta from outside the house.
He was also charged with criminal damage on the same day after the car was found burned out at Pontoon.
Ms Sarah O’Brien told the court that she called the Gardaí at 3.30am, minutes after she had seen and heard her car being driven away.
Conor Power and Anthony Moran, witnesses for the prosecution, both said they had met Mr Smyth earlier that night in Castlebar where a group of students from Foxford were celebrating their Leaving Cert graduation. They said that Mr Smyth had travelled back to Foxford with them in a car driven by Mr Power and that after getting out in Foxford, Smyth subsequently came back to them with a car, which Mr Power said was a Ford Fiesta.
They said that they followed him towards Pontoon where Mr Smyth performed handbrake turns and ‘donuts’ on the way and they both testified that he burned the car out in Pontoon, just past the Pontoon Bridge Hotel.
Judge Rory MacCabe, in his summation, described both Power and Moran as ‘reluctant witnesses’, saying that they would rather be anywhere else than in court giving evidence.
Mr Smyth denied the charges, saying ‘I never went near that house and never went near that Fiesta’ and told the court that he was at home at the time of the theft. He said Mr Power had brought him home shortly after they returned to Foxford and that he had a row at home with his mother.
Ms Nora Smyth gave evidence that she was woken at 2.42am on the morning in question when their dogs started barking and their sensor lights came on when a car containing her son entered their driveway.
She added that they had a row about him being at the graduation celebrations when he hadn’t graduated in the school and that he then went to bed. She added that she was awake for another hour and that her son could not have left in that time. Jake Smyth’s father Brian gave evidence of being woken at 3am by the fighting of his son and his wife.
After just 39 minutes the jury found Jake Smyth not guilty on all three counts.