A 'Good Samaritan' priest gave a burglar a lift into Ennis town only minutes after making the shock discovery of finding him hiding in his wardrobe.
Fr Paddy Conway gave drug addict Michael Clune (30) the lift after the thief had given back the €20 he had stolen in the burglary.
Clune of Bridgeview, Roslevan, Ennis - who has 69 previous convictions - pleaded guilty at Ennis District Court to the burglary on December 7 at Cloughleigh, Ennis and received an eight-month suspended jail term consecutive to the eight months in jail he is currently serving.
Judge Patrick Durcan said that "when you open your wardrobe, the last thing you expect to see is Mr Clune".
"It is an appalling burglary," he added.
Fr Conway - who is 73 and lives by himself - said that he had received a Christmas card from Mr Clune at his Presbytery only days before the burglary.
"Michael told me that he thought that the house was empty and didn't know I lived there," Fr Conway said.
Fr Conway said that he has known Michael "since he was a young lad and I was disappointed that he would do something like this".
The assistant priest in Ennis said that he left his home for 25 minutes and returned home to find a concrete block put through the window and glass all over the floor.
On searching the house, Fr Conway found Mr Clune hiding in his wardrobe and discovered that €20 was missing.
"I said more or less to Michael 'I know your family and I know you since you're a young lad and why would you do that to me?' He asked me 'will you drive me down town?' and I said 'I will but first you will have to give me my €20 back'," Fr Conway explained.
Fr Conway drove Mr Clune into Ennis and along the way Mr Clune made a cheeky request for the priest to buy him methadone.
"I told him I couldn't do that," said Fr Conway
The priest said that he left Mr Clune "on reasonably good terms" at Ennis's Cathedral.
However, on advice received, Fr Conway reported the incident at the local Garda station resulting in the matter coming before court.