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Man accused of breaking into Ukrainian couple's car says he took 'large amount of medication'

Finglas man Christopher Johnson is accused of stealing clothes, a guitar and a laptop from the refugees as well as criminal damage to the car

Christopher Johnson. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Andrew Phelan

A man accused of breaking into a car belonging to Ukrainian refugees after they fled to Ireland told arresting gardai he had taken “a large amount of medication” on the day, a court heard.

Christopher Johnson (45) is alleged to have stolen clothes and other personal items from a car belonging to the couple while it was parked at a hotel in north Dublin.

The pair had arrived in Ireland just two weeks earlier, after fleeing their Kyiv home in the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Judge Treasa Kelly adjourned the case at Dublin District Court for Mr Johnson to consider how he intends to plead.

The accused, with an address at The Botanic, Prospect Hill, Finglas, is accused of theft of the property including clothes, a guitar and laptop, as well as criminal damage to the car, on March 24.

The break-in is alleged to have happened in the underground car park at the Travel Lodge Hotel, Shangan Road, Ballymun.

Separately, Mr Johnson is also alleged to have damaged and taken property from another car parked at the same location.

Today, a garda sergeant told Judge Kelly the DPP had consented to the case being dealt with in the district court subject to the issue of jurisdiction being considered.

Outlining the prosecution’s case, he said it was alleged the accused broke into two vehicles and stole a quantity of property from them, with a total value of around €3,000.

It was alleged he admitted the offences, apologised and told gardai he had taken a large amount of medication.

Judge Kelly accepted jurisdiction, allowing the case to remain in the district court. She ordered disclosure of prosecution evidence to the defence following an application by Mr Johnson’s solicitor, John Feaheny.

A summary of evidence was handed over in court and she also ordered disclosure of the accused’s garda interview video.

Mr Johnson was remanded on continuing bail to appear in court again on a date next month, when he will be expected to indicate a plea.

Today was his second court appearance on the charges. On the last date, Garda Andy McDonnell said the accused made no reply to the charges after caution.

The Ukrainian refugees, who had driven through a number of countries before arriving in Ireland, have since spoken of the alleged break-in.

The couple said in a GoFundMe appeal that they were surprised to be stolen from, as there were Ukrainian plates on the car and “the whole world knows about Ukraine.”

"It was obvious we are refugees and this is all we have,” one of the alleged victims said.

It was not possible for them to get their insurance to cover the cost of the missing items, but over €18,000 has been raised for them on GoFundMe.

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