A Ballina man appeared before Westport District Court last Thursday charged with the theft of copper from a vacant hostel outside Newport.
Declan Hopkins of 5, St Muredach’s Terrace, Ballina was charged with burglary of the copper from Traenlaur Lodge Youth Hostel, Shramore, Newport on August 30 last.
Garda Mark Irwin told the court that he arrested Hopkins at 7.30pm on the night in question when he saw him driving suspiciously near the hostel. He said he found three bags of copper in the car which Hopkins could not account for. Copper was subsequently reported stolen from the hostel.
The copper piping was worth €2,000 in its full form but after being cut up by Hopkins for scrap, it had only a value of €150, the court heard.
Hopkins, who had appeared in court before on poaching charges, struck in an ‘opportunistic’ fashion according to his solicitor James Ward, adding that he wasn’t there to target the hostel but just saw it and saw an opportunity. Judge Mary Devins asked him what was he doing in the area. Hopkins replied he was ‘fishing’.
The court heard Hopkins had no previous convictions and is a married 41-year-old father of three with a fourth due in January.
The court heard that the hostel has been vacant since 2009 due to flooding problems. Judge Devins asked if the €2,000 cost of the copper could be paid in lieu of a conviction. James Ward said his client would need more time and the matter was adjourned into the New Year.