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Thursday 17 October 2019

Coke-addled criminal went looting during snowstorm

The Centra store in Jobstown was looted during a snowstorm
The Centra store in Jobstown was looted during a snowstorm

A convicted burglar who looted a shop during a snowstorm has been jailed.

Lawyers for David Berney (37) told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that, like many people, Berney was "reminded of his childhood" when the Beast from the East weather system brought heavy snowfall to the capital last March.

"But unlike others he was high on cocaine at the time," Eoin Lawlor, defending, told Judge Cormac Quinn.

Habit

Berney, of Suncroft Park, Tall-aght, pleaded guilty to burgling the Centra store in Jobstown last March 2.

He was on bail at the time awaiting prosecution for a burglary at a home in Rock Lodge, Stepaside, in December 2014, and has since pleaded guilty to that offence.

Berney's offending constituted "crimes of acquisition to feed his drug habit", the court heard.

He had previous convictions for robbery, assault, burglary and making threats to kill or cause serious harm.

Judge Quinn imposed a two-year prison sentence for the 2014 burglary and 18 months for the looting incident.

However, he suspended the latter term on condition that Berney keep the peace and engage with addiction and social reintegration services.

Berney was found hiding in a cash room at the rear of the shop.

Another man, who is still before the courts, was in his company and they had used a sledgehammer to force their way into the back offices while others looted the store, the court heard.

Det Gda David Jennings told Eoghan Cole, prosecuting, that gardai in Tallaght became aware of looting at the Centra store.

At the time, most shops were closed due to a severe weather warning.

Because of the storm, officers set out in an official 4x4 but were forced to get out before reaching the shop because the road was blocked by snow and abandoned vehicles.

When they reached the shop, they spotted about 20 people running in and out, Det Gda Jennings said. A "con saw" had been used to cut a hole in the security shutters.

Smashed

People began shouting "Garda! Garda!" to alert others who were still inside, but the store alarm was ringing so the shouts could not be heard.

He said Berney had entered the shop about 90 seconds before gardai arrived. While others were looting, he and two other men had gone to the rear storeroom.

Another man smashed open the storeroom door and the three men then entered the cash room.

Counsel for Berney said he was willing to work on his rehabilitation.

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