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Sunday 30 April 2017

Monet painting vandal stole 17 toothbrushes worth €200 from shop

Andrew Shannon was fined €200 at Swords District Court
Andrew Shannon was fined €200 at Swords District Court

A Dublin man who damaged a €10m Claude Monet painting five years ago has admitted to stealing 17 electric toothbrushes worth €200 from a Swords supermarket.

Andrew Shannon (52), who has 36 previous convictions for burglary, theft and criminal damage, blames an addiction to painkillers, Benzodiazepine and "harder substances" following a quadruple heart bypass for his offending, Swords District Court has heard.

The defendant was convicted and fined €200 for the theft of the toothbrushes, which happened on December 8 last year.

He went into Dunnes Stores at the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Swords, took the toothbrushes from a shelf and concealed them in a shopping bag, before leaving the supermarket without paying for them.

The defendant, of Willan's Way, Ongar, had a second charge over the theft of eight electronic toothbrushes from the same supermarket three days previously dismissed after Judge Dermot Dempsey ruled he was not satisfied Shannon had left the store carrying the toothbrushes.

Difficulties

CCTV footage shown during his trial showed a man leaving the supermarket with his hands down by his side and, despite a security guard stating the suspect was on his mobile phone as he left, this was not seen on the video.

Defence barrister Patrick Jackson said Shannon had major heart surgery in 2014 and heart problems run in his family.

"Two of his brothers passed away from heart difficulties and the defendant will be on medication for the rest of his life," said Mr Jackson, adding the defendant is on disability benefit.

"He has an addiction to pain medication and harder substances but he has produced clean urine analysis."

Mr Jackson added Shannon had already paid €200 in compensation to the supermarket.

Shannon was given a six-year prison sentence in 2014 for the damage he caused to Monet's 1874 painting Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat at the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare Street, Dublin, on June 29, 2012.

Peculiar

His eight-day trial for that offence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in December 2014 heard Shannon had entered the gallery just before 11am and had gone to where the painting was on display.

He left and returned a short time later and appeared to stumble forward, striking the painting with his hand.

Shannon said he had been dizzy and had fallen.

He was treated by a paramedic, who reported his vital signs were normal and he was given glyceryl trinitrate spray and aspirin.

During interview, he told gardai he had a heart condition and that was why he had fallen down.

However, a jury convicted him after just under one-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

The Monet painting is now back on display in the National Gallery following a period of restoration.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a sentence of six years but suspended the final 15 months on strict conditions, including that Shannon not enter into a public painting gallery or any other institution or building where paintings are publicly displayed.

Judge Nolan said he would not expect Shannon to know the value of the painting, but he must have known the painting was valuable and historic.

He said it was a "peculiar crime" and it was "abnormal" to cause damage in the way he did.

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