A MAN who stole an envelope of cash from a post office was so overcome by guilt for what he did he gave the envelope to a local priest to hand over to the gardaí.
Seán Kearney of the Lodge Road, Westport appeared before last week’s sitting of Westport District Court after he admitted taking the envelope of cash which was mistakenly left on a side counter in Westport Post Office.
When the theft was reported to gardaí, it was alleged that €2,000 was in the envelope but Mr Kearney was adamant that there was only €1,000 and gardaí admitted they could not be sure the envelope was interfered with before Mr Kearney took it.
Peter Loftus reported the theft to gardaí on October 28, 2011 when he explained that the day before he had lost an envelope containing €2,000 and believed he may have lost it in the post office.
When gardaí viewed the CCTV, Kearney was seen in the post office and suspected of being responsible for taking the envelope. When questioned by gardaí he admitted picking up the envelope and taking it.
His solicitor, Dermot Morahan said the incident was a spilt second decision and he did not feel right after doing it. He added that it was a ‘weight off his chest’ when he returned the money to the priest.
Garda John McNamara explained that when Kearney was initially interviewed on November 10, he was uncooperative and denied any knowledge. He said he was satisfied he had ‘the right man’ and advised Mr Kearney to talk to a solicitor.
On November 24, 2011 Kearney gave the envelope to a priest who returned it to Westport Garda Station and Kearney later gave a statement admitting the offence.
Garda McNamara said he also spoke to the manager of Permanent TSB who said he put money in the envelope for Mr Loftus and that there was €2,000 in it.
Mr Morahan said after watching the CCTV he could not see the envelope and Garda McNamara agreed that it was a difficult case to prove if Mr Kearney had not admitted his guilt.
Garda McNamara explained that after Mr Loftus left the post office, 21 customers had entered the post office by the time Mr Kearney left.
Mr Morahan explained that the envelope was left on a counter where people queue and that his client was in the post office on business. He said after he went to the counter he went back to the envelope and took it. He said it was opportunistic and not premeditated.
He explained that his client was living in Mayo for the last seven years and was currently involved in a furniture making course and had no previous convictions.
Judge Mary Devins said she would adjourn sentencing until March 7 for a probation report.