News

Priest's house burgled while he was saying mass

Priest's house burgled while he was saying mass

A Limerick man broke into a parochial house in Dublin to steal money while the priest was away saying mass, a court has heard.

Gary Culhane (40), who has 97 previous convictions including burglary, robbery and theft, has spent 20 years of his life so far in prison. He now lives in homeless accommodation in Dublin,

Culhane, of Camberley House, Churchtown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at The Good Shepard Church and Parochial House, Nutgrove Avenue, Churchtown, Dublin on October 15, 2016.

Garda Aine Bolton told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that the priest returned home after saying mass to find his house ransacked and €650 - a mixture of his own money, collections and the poor box - had been taken. Entry had been forced through the front door.

The office in the neighbouring church had also been broken into but nothing was taken.

Gardai identified Culhane after the priest downloaded CCTV from the premises. Culhane was arrested the following day and made full admissions during interview. He told gardai he had been “stuck for cash” and had found money in the office and in envelopes.

Gda Bolton agreed with Sarah Jane O'Callaghan BL, defending, that Culhane was originally from Limerick. She agreed he was very co-operative with gardai and appeared to be remorseful.

The garda agreed Culhane said during interview that he had debts and agreed that it would not surprise her that Culhane had a chronic drug addiction.

Ms O'Callaghan said Culhane had written letters to the priest and to the judge and submitted his last conviction had been in 2010. She said he was a father of two and his partner was from Dublin.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing until October to allow a probation report be prepared.

A full plea in mitigation on behalf of Culhane will be heard from defence counsel on that date.