Five-year sentence for 50th burglary conviction 'not too severe'

Five-year sentence for 50th burglary conviction 'not too severe'

A five year prison sentence imposed on a man for his fiftieth burglary conviction could not be said to be too severe, the Court of Appeal has stated.

Christopher Cummins (37), of Cherry Park, River Valley, Swords, had pleaded guilty to burglary of a health store in Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on October 31, 2015.

He was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five years imprisonment by Judge Pat McCartan on July 21, 2016.

Cummins lost an appeal against his sentence today with the Court of Appeal stating that a more severe sentence “might well have been upheld”.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said that when a certain sum of money was accumulated in the health store, it was moved to a safe in the back office. On the day in question, it seems there were a “number of staff errors”.

The safe wasn't locked and when the employee involved went out to leave rubbish in the back yard, he took a phone call leaving the back door open.

The staff member became concerned when he saw a man leaving hurriedly from the door. He reported that the safe was open and empty.

The total amount taken was €12,000. That sum has not been recovered and the insurance company declined to meet the claim because of the breach of security protocol.

Cummins had 139 previous convictions including 49 for burglary, 10 of which were dealt with in the Circuit Court.

His most recent conviction had been recorded in May 2014, a burglary conviction for which he received a four year sentence. He was released from that sentence the day before he committed this offence.

The court heard he was someone who was known to gardai as a drug user.

Fr Peter McVerry S.J submitted a letter to the Circuit Court stating that once Cummins was released from prison support would be available for him.

The sentencing judge was seemingly “not impressed” by Fr Peter McVerry's letter remarking that the frequency of such reports coming before the courts diminished their value.

Cummins' lawyers criticised the Circuit Court judge for his approach to the Fr Peter McVerry documentation, Mr Justice Birmingham said. He was criticised for not giving sufficient attention to it but rather being dismissive of the proposal which would have seen Cummins taking part in a drug relapse prevention programme.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the “stark reality” of this case was that it was a very serious offence involving the theft of a significant sum of money by a person with an "appalling" previous record.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the Court of Appeal could not see how the sentence imposed could be suggested to be unduly severe.

Indeed, a more severe sentence "might well have been upheld" and the court was “firmly of the view”, that the appeal be dismissed.