Man had 86 stolen power tools in stolen trailer attached to false-plated car
A man jailed for handling 86 stolen power tools in a stolen trailer while driving in a car with false plates has had his prison sentence cut on appeal.
John Francis Mongan (27), who is resident in the UK, had pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of handling stolen property at Julianstown, Co Louth on April 12, 2014.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Judge Rory McCabe on December 5, 2014. The maximum term available to the sentencing judge was 10 years.
Mongan, a member of the travelling community, successfully appealed his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that his guilty plea ought to have attracted greater credit.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said stolen property and items including power tools and an Ifor Williams trailer were seized by gardai on the date in question.
Mr Justice Mahon said gardai had earlier seized a number of other items in the course of an investigation into a series of burglaries at a number of commercial premises in Galway.
The trailer was placed under surveillance and stopped while being drawn by Mongan, Mr Justice Mahon said.
Counsel for Mongan, Karl Monaghan BL, said there was no evidence that Mongon was "anything other than the friend into whose hand Smarties were pushed" when security was crossing the shop floor.
Mr Monaghan submitted that Mongan was sentenced on the basis that he was allegedly responsible for the burglaries rather than being a receiver and that the offence was placed too high up the scale.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anne-Marie Lawlor BL, told the court that Mongan was driving in a convoy in a "capped vehicle" with false plates.
He was involved in the transport of so many stolen power tools - 86 in total – that they filled up the stolen trailer, Ms Lawlor said.
She said it was an extremely sophisticated, pre-planned, pre-meditated, organised, financed and funded operation and the value of the goods was over €40,000.
Ms Lawlor said Mongan hadn't made any admissions to the gardai and had been invited to return the items to their owners early "but he chose not to".
The court heard that he was consenting to his surrender to the UK on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by British authorities. He was concurrently in custody on foot of the warrant and may be entitled to credit for time served here while awaiting surrender, the court heard.
He was the subject of a second European Arrest Warrant issued by Belgian authorities, the court heard, though he was entitled to the presumption of innocence in respect of it.
Mr Justice Mahon said Mongan was a 27-year-old married father-of-two. He had an occupation in scrap dealing and the buying and selling of cars.
Of his 21 previous convictions, 15 were recorded in Ireland - including theft, handling stolen property and the unauthorised taking of vehicles – and six were recorded in the UK where he had previously received a six-month prison sentence.
He said Mongan was a UK national and had applied for a transfer to that jurisdiction for the remainder of his sentence.
Mr Justice Mahon said Mongan's guilty plea was worthwhile and ought to have had greater weight attached to it. To this extent, he said, there was an error in principle.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would impose a new sentence of three-and-a-half-years imprisonment with the final six months suspended for two years.
Mongan was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for two years post-release.