'unacceptable' | 

Man (53) with 105 previous convictions stole from church donations boxes

Simon Maguire was seen taking €100 from a collection box

Dundalk courthouse

The Argus

A 53-year-old man who stole from churches, causing damage in some instances, has been jailed for 14 months.

Simon Maguire, with addresses at St Helena, Woodland Park and Simon Community, Dundalk, pleaded guilty to all charges arising from a period of offending which began in November 2021.

A solicitor for the defendant, who has 105 previous convictions, said he had received the assistance of the church over the years, while Judge McKiernan remarked what had occurred was ‘totally and utterly unacceptable’.

Evidence was presented that at 3.50pm on 19 November 2021 theft and criminal damage was reported at St Joseph’s Redemptorist Church.

A male had entered the back lobby and pulled a donation box off the wall. The total loss was €100.

On 1 January 2022, again at St Joseph’s, the defendant was seen taking €100 from a collection box. The matter was reported at 10.55am.

CCTV helped identify Mr Maguire following a burglary at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 9.40am on 31 March 2022.

The sacristan told gardaí that €200 had been taken from a money box in an office.

Evidence was also given about a burglary in Habitat, Francis Street, on 2 August last.

A door had been forced, causing €300 damage, and €20 petty cash taken. The accused was seen leaving a ground floor office.

On 3 September he was disturbed in staff locker rooms at Tesco, Longwalk Shopping and when he left through a door an alarm was activated. Alcohol, valued €9, had been taken from the store.

The defendant also admitted taking a can of cider at Londis, Castletown Road, on 18 October.

Meanwhile, he was asked to leave St Patrick’s Soup Kitchen on 31 October having become agitated. Mr Maguire slammed a door on his way out, shattering the window.

At 8.25pm on 11 November, as a delivery was being made to Costa, Marshes Shopping Centre, the defendant got inside and took a purse containing €600 from a handbag before leaving through the rear of the premises. The incident was captured on CCTV.

On 7 January of this year at 11am, gardaí saw him acting suspiciously in Muirhevnamór. He could provide no reason for being there and fled.

He was caught after a foot chase and attempted to grab a garda by the face. Mr Maguire was taken to the ground and handcuffed.

Solicitor Peter Lavery said his client had a very bad record but did well when not drinking.

An alcoholic, he grew up in difficult circumstances, and lived in extreme poverty. He was unable to address compensation and had been in custody since 11 January.

Consecutive two-month sentences were imposed for the two incidents in St Joseph’s Church and the burglary in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

The defendant got four months consecutive for each of the Francis Street and Costa burglaries.

Other charges were taken into consideration and the sentences backdated to 11 January last.

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