Crumlin man burgled two churches and two primary schools while on bail for burglary
A man burgled two churches and two primary schools in just over a week while on bail for other burglaries, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
James Byrne (34) of Balfe Road, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty to burglary at Drimnagh Castle Primary School; St Agnes Church, Crumlin; Assumption Church, Walkinstown, and St Mark’s Junior School, Tallaght on dates from October 3 to 13 2014. Byrne also pleaded guilty to criminal damage at St Mark’s Junior School.
Gda Orla Madden told Diarmuid Collins, BL, prosecuting that on October 5 2014 Byrne knocked on the door of St Agnes Church and asked to see a priest. The woman who let him in had been counting coins in the sacristy so told Byrne to wait for the priest to return.
St Agnes Church Crumlin
Minutes later she saw him jump up and run from the church. A person locking their bike outside noticed the sound of coins rattling in Byrne’s jacket as he ran. Byrne later told gardaí that he got €56 from the theft.
On October 13 2014, at Assumption Church, Walkinstown, an 80 year old man was counting coins in the church when he noticed a hand on the bench beside him. Initially he thought it was the parish priest and when he saw it was Byrne he tried to grab him but could not get a grip.
Assumption Church, Walkinstown
As the elderly man chased Byrne shouting for him to stop, Byrne turned and locked the door. Gda Madden said Byrne got away with between €200 and €300.
Gda Madden told the court that Byrne identified himself on CCTV footage from Drimnagh Castle Primary School on October 3 2014 after a teacher reported their laptop as stolen.
Drimnagh Castle Primary School
Gda Kieran Kilcoyne said that Byrne broke into St Mark’s Junior School in Tallaght on October 12 2014 and caused €3,500 worth of damage to doors and windows in the school. Byrne told gardaí that he did not get anything during the burglary and had to go to his ex-wife’s house afterwards to borrow €10.
St Mark’s Junior School
Defence counsel, James Dwyer, BL, said that Byrne’s criminality was exacerbated by his cannabis use. Mr Dwyer said that Byrne did not use violence in any of the burglaries and the only contact he had with someone was the “robust 80 year old” who attempted to grab him. Byrne apologised for locking the man in the church.
Gda Madden told the court that Byrne has 26 previous convictions including five for burglary, three for aggravated burglary and others related to larceny and domestic violence. He was on bail for burglaries when he committed the church and school robberies.
Judge Catherine Murphy remanded Byrne in custody until July 27 when she will impose sentence.