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Dublin man acted as 'distraction' while accomplices burgled homes of elderly people

CourtsBy Sunday World
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A man who acted as a "distraction" while his accomplices entered the homes of elderly people to steal items has been given a three-and-a-half year sentence.

Michael Cawley, now aged 24, was 17-years-old when he took part in the series of burglaries in 2010.

The court heard that after the offences Cawley had returned to the UK, where he has spent most of his life.

Cawley, now a married father of two, with an address at St Olivers Park, Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four burglaries and one attempted burglary at the homes of elderly people at various locations in Dublin on dates between February and May 2010.

Cawley has seven other convictions and is currently serving a two-year sentence with the final nine months suspended for similar offences which was imposed earlier this week in Cork Circuit Court.

Judge Martin Nolan said these were “atrocious crimes” which had exploited the trusting nature of elderly people and he had no doubt their enjoyment of life had been lessened as a result of the offences.

He noted there seemed to be no real violence in the offences and when confronted the men sought to escape.

Judge Nolan imposed a three-and-a-half year sentence and told Cawley it would have been more if it were not for his age at the time of the offences.

Detective Garda Fergal O'Flaherty told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that in February 2010 an 82-year-old man answered the door to Cawley who told him he was putting in a washing machine in the house next door and it was causing some flooding. He asked to check the water pressure in his house.

The elderly man lead him into his kitchen where Cawley turned on the tap and then began adjusting something under the sink. He became suspicious of Cawley as he knew there was no water valve under the sink and shouted “get out you chancer” at him.

The man's 88-year-old wife saw a second man coming down their stairs. He pushed her out of the way at the bottom of the stairs. She was uninjured but said she “got an awful shock.” Her husband tried to keep this man in the house but he managed to get out along with Cawley.

The elderly man followed the burglars out and saw them get into a car. Gardai collected CCTV from the area and nominated Cawley as a suspect. Cawley told gardai he had been forced into committing the offence by his accomplice and had not been told why he was going into the house.

The court heard that during this period Cawley had played a similar role in burglaries of the homes of an 83-year-old man, a 75-year-old woman, a 63-year-old woman and an 85-year-old woman.

Cawley told gardai he had developed a problem with heroin a number of months prior to this offence.

Aoife O'Halloran BL, defending, put it to Det Gda O'Flaherty that at the time Cawley was in the care of an uncle who “was not the best role model.” He replied that Cawley was hanging around with the wrong type of people and some were family members.

Ms O'Halloran said Cawley had a turbulent upbringing and had been in the care of his grandparents until his grandfather died. He was then entrusted to the care of an uncle “who did not lead him on the right path.”

She said Cawley found himself indebted and felt an element of pressure to become involved in the offences.

Ms O'Halloran asked the court to bear in mind that Cawley was 17 at the time and did not have the most stable footing in life. She said he was now “fully clean” and was a married father of two.

She said he had never been in custody before and had found it an “eye opener” but was using his time in prison productively. She said if given an opportunity to engage with the probation service on release he would have a chance to become a productive and upstanding member of society.

Fiona Ferguson