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Jail for criminal with 153 previous convictions

Michael Cawley
Michael Cawley

A man who monitored a man cashing a bank cheque before following him and breaking into his car has been jailed for two years.

Michael Cawley (44) has 153 previous convictions including 120 theft charges relating to social welfare fraud.

Cawley of Rivermeade Avenue, St Margaret’s, Swords, Co Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted theft and criminal damage of a vehicle at The Black Lyon Pub, Inchicore, Dublin 8 on March 26, 2015.

Today Judge Pauline Codd imposed a four year sentence with two years suspended for a period of two years.

Garda Kevin Lawless told John Fitzgerald BL, prosecuting, that CCTV footage taken on March 26 from Bank of Ireland on the Long Mile Road in Dublin 12 showed three men pull up in a car which was being driven by Cawley.

The court heard that the first suspect went into the bank and joined the queue. The victim, Alan O’Neill, then joined the queue and was “two people” behind the first suspect in the queue.

Mr O’Neill asked the teller for money bags. The first suspect stayed in the queue “until he almost came to the teller and then doubled back and left the bank.”

When the first suspect left the bank Cawley came in and joined the queue behind Mr O’Neill. Mr O’Neill then cashed a cheque for €2,100.

Cawley left the bank and followed Mr O’Neill to his car. The victim then went to a nearby bookies.

When he returned from the bookies the front passenger window of his car had been smashed. A witness from a nearby flat heard the sound of the glass smashing and took a picture on his phone of Cawley reaching inside the car.

Gda Lawless told Mr Fitzgerald that this picture led gardai to Cawley. The court heard that the victim had the cash with him in his pocket at all times and Cawley took nothing from the car.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said his client had a serious alcohol problem and 120 of his previous convictions related to a six year ongoing social welfare fraud totalling around €52,000.

The barrister told the court that Cawley’s wife suffered from difficulties which had resulted in her receiving disability allowance and she was dependent on Cawley's assistance.

Mr Le Vert apologised to the victim on behalf of his client and said a sum of €100 had been brought to court as “an expression of his remorse for damaging the window.”

“There was obviously no physical contact between the parties and the matter didn’t escalate further as there was no one in the car,” said counsel.

Judge Codd said it was clear that there was a certain amount of planning in this case.

“Mr Cawley and the two other men followed Mr O’Neill to the bank and that carries a degree of alarm for the injured party and is quite a sinister aspect to this case,” she said.

“It’s an alarming experience for any party to be followed,” she said.

The judge said she was taking into account as mitigating factor Cawley’s guilty pleas and the fact that his wife is dependent on him.