An avid fisherman caught trying to steal copper from a building site has been sentenced to a year in prison.
Father-of-two Robert Terry (42) of Bentley House, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin told gardaí who found him trespassing on the site that a knife found in his pocket was his fishing knife that he had been using the previous day.
He later pleaded guilty on the date of his trial to attempted burglary at Mellifont Avenue, Dun Laoghaire on October 19th, 2019. Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said the crime was “at the more inoffensive end”.
Judge Nolan said Terry had his good points and had other interests apart from crime, including fishing, but pointed out that he also had a long history of offending with 54 previous convictions, many for theft.
Garda Brendan Boyle told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were alerted after a neighbour saw a man going through a garden into a building which was being turned from a commercial premises into a personal dwelling.
Gardaí were on patrol nearby and stopped Terry in the hallway of the building, searched him and found a knife in his pocket which he said he’d used for fishing the day before.
Gardaí believed Terry had been looking for copper and scrap and noticed some damage to a door, which Terry said another person had inflicted at an earlier date.
Counsel for Terry said it was an entirely opportunistic crime and that he had been passing by when he noticed skip bags outside the building, rifled through them and then went into the house.
The court heard Terry was only in the house a minute when the gardaí came and that nothing was stolen. Counsel said Terry had a long work history as a plasterer, a butcher, a barman and a fisherman but that he stopped working after an injury in 2019.
Terry has been homeless since 2010, the court heard, and has had addiction issues since 2008 when he dabbled in heroin while in custody.
The court heard Terry has been on methadone since 2010 and is awaiting a place in a residential treatment centre and has turned his life around in the last number of years, counsel said.
Terry is an active member of the Dodder Angling Society and helps to clean the Dodder River weekly, the court heard. Judge Nolan accepted that Terry had expressed remorse and sentenced him to 12 months in prison.