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Burglars blame crimes on poitín


TWO Castlebar men who burgled a house in the county town avoided jail time after one received community service and the other was given a suspended sentence.
Kevin Cashin (26) of 9 Rathbawn Grove, Castlebar, and John Joe Hopkins (36) of 8 De La Salle Apartments, Castlebar, both blamed drinking poitín for causing them to break into a house at The Orchard Estate, Castlebar, shortly after 4am on June 18, 2017, and for prompting them to taking items from a car parked outside one of the houses.
Last week’s sitting of Westport District Court heard that the two men had met earlier in the night and had no memory of the incident after drinking poitín. Ms Cathy McDarby, solicitor for the defendants said that the back door of the house and the door of the car were both left open and that there had been no violence in the break-ins.
However, Judge Alan Mitchell noted that the burglary had taken a psychological toll on the owner of the home that the pair broke into. He also added that they should not blame alcohol for their actions, though he did advise them not to drink poitín again.
Inspector Denis Harrington explained that on the date in question, the Gardaí received a call of a break-in. When officers arrived at the scene they encountered two men walking out of the estate. The pair dropped the items they were carrying and fled, but they were quickly apprehended. All of the items they had taken from the car and home were recovered.
The items stolen included an Elite breathalyser, a Acer laptop, a rucksack containing cables and a car key and a keyring, as well as property worth €1,560, including a phone intercom, a suitcase, a HDMI splitter, a bank card reader and a set of keys.
Ms McDarby said the burglary was a terrible thing to happen to anyone, but she stressed the two gentlemen were so drunk they could not remember what happened. She said Mr Cashin had issues with alcohol, while Mr Hopkins had certain mental and personality difficulties.
Mr Cashin had one previous conviction, for theft in 2013, while Mr Hopkins had 35 previous convictions, including 13 for burglary and three for theft (however, his last conviction was in 2012).
Ms McDarby said that Mr Hopkins had been doing well and keeping out of trouble up to this incident, and that neither men had come to Garda attention since June 18.
Judge Mitchell sentenced Mr Hopkins to 200 hours in lieu of six months’ imprisonment and handed down a four-month sentence to Mr Cashin, which he suspended for a period of 12 months.