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Dublin man left bike with his name on it at church where he stole mass donations

Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun
Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun

A Dublin man left a bicycle with his name on a sticker attached to it on church grounds after making off with €500 of mass donations, a court has heard.

Justin Murray (38) cycled to the Church of Our Lady of Victories in Ballymun to “creep” in and steal money but fled on foot when he was seen taking collection envelopes by a parishioner.

Gardai later found the bike which had a sticker with “Justin Murray” on it discarded on the church grounds.

Murray, of Moatview Court, Coolock, affirmed signed pleas of guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing cash at the church on November 6, 2016.

He has 77 previous convictions including ten thefts and 20 burglaries.

Garda Ross Brierley said he and colleagues also identified Murray as the thief from CCTV in the area.

The garda told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that a parishioner who had been helping out after mass that morning saw a male enter and take money from the church collection.

At first she thought he was there to help, but soon realised he was stealing money.

She said the male fled on foot when he spotted her.

Gda Brierley said he arrested Murray the next day at a shopping centre after he and colleagues were satisfied he was the culprit.

He said Murray was on bail for a robbery at the time.

He agreed with Dean Kelly BL, defending, that Murray had gone into the church “to creep into a private area and steal money” but that he had instead come face-to-face with the parishioner.

The garda further agreed that Murray's very early guilty plea to the offence was of great assistance.

Mr Kelly submitted to Judge Elma Sheahan that his client was on an enhanced regime in custody and wished to be transferred to Cork Prison as he found it easier to stay off heroin in that institution.

Judge Sheahan ordered a probation report and remanded Murray in continuing custody until February next year.