herald

Friday 28 April 2017

Library-goer with drink problem stole phone in 'opportunistic' theft

John Murphy
John Murphy

A library-goer with a drink problem stole another man's phone when he put it down on a desk, a court heard.

John Murphy (41) snatched the unattended phone but was later tracked down through CCTV footage and library rec-ords.

Judge Bryan Smyth ordered the defendant to pay compensation and adjourned the case at Dublin District Court.

Murphy, of Howth Road, Clontarf, pleaded guilty to stealing a man's smartphone worth €250.

The theft happened at Rathmines Library on Lower Rathmines Road last May 18.

Gda Aaron Lawlor told the court that the accused entered the library and took the phone, which had been left at a computer desk.

Murphy saw it, took it and placed it in his own bag before leaving the library.

He was identified from security footage and a search of the computer log at the library.

Murphy was co-operative with gardai when he was later arrested and charged, said his solicitor, Michael Shanley.

Detoxing

It had been a "somewhat opportunistic" theft, he added.

"It would appear to be, from the CCTV," the investigating garda confirmed.

Murphy had 30 previous convictions for offences that were mostly drink-related, the court heard.

Letters presented to the court stated that he was detoxing from alcohol.

The accused had a "huge drinking problem" but was taking steps to address it, Mr Shanley said.

Murphy had been homeless and staying in hostels previously but had been working for two years and was due to start a course in security.

Although he had initially pleaded not guilty, he had informed the garda of his change of plea and the victim did not have to attend court, Mr Shanley said.

He asked the judge to bear in mind the fact that Murphy had a very low income.

"I am also thinking that the injured party has been without the phone since May," Judge Smyth said.

"I'm sure anybody who has lost a phone or who has had it stolen knows it can cause quite a bit of inconvenience."

Mr Shanley said the accused would pay compensation.

Judge Smyth adjourned the case to a date in April. He said that if the compensation was paid by then, he would impose a fine.

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