Man with over 200 previous convictions gets suspended sentence for exercise bike theft

Gardai observed damage to the gym and saw equipment had been removed. When they checked the CCTV system, all but one of the hard drives had been removed.

Gym. Stock image

Sunday World

A man with over 200 previous convictions who stole an exercise bike from a gym during the first Covid-19 lockdown has been handed a fully suspended prison sentence.

Paul Meehan (47) of Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to burglary at Fit4Less, Bargaintown, North Road, Finglas on May 2, 2020.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Monday that a woman was walking past the gym at 9.30pm on May 5, 2020 when she spotted a male walking in the car park. A few minutes later, she saw the man manoeuvring an exercise bike from the gym. She later gave a detailed description of the man to gardai.

The woman was aware the gym was closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown as she was a member of the gym. She contacted a staff member, who confirmed the gym was closed. Gardai were called and they attended the gym.

They observed damage to the gym and saw equipment had been removed. When they checked the CCTV system, all but one of the hard drives had been removed.

When this hard drive was checked, gardai found footage of Meehan, who entered the building as the front door was open, then cut the CCTV.

Meehan was arrested in the early hours of May 6, 2020 and was initially deemed unfit for interview. He was interviewed twice, and made no comment except to identify himself on CCTV during the second interview.

The exercise bike was not recovered. Meehan has 204 previous convictions, including over 20 for burglary.

The investigating garda agreed with Nicola Cox BL, defending, that it seems that the owner of the property was not keeping a close eye on the premises at that time and other people were in the property, including some living there.

The garda accepted that Meehan's detention was suspended following a review by a doctor. The court heard Meehan served a prison sentence in relation to a burglary at a hospital, which occurred a few days after this incident.

A medical report was handed into the court. Ms Cox said her client experienced homelessness, has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and required inpatient treatment. She said a probation report states Meehan has engaged with mental health services, is taking medication and doing well.

Judge Martin Nolan said Meehan had served a two-and-a-half year sentence in relation to the burglary at the hospital and it was unlikely his stay in prison would have been extended if both incidents had been dealt with at the same time.

Judge Nolan noted Meehan's long history of offending, but said he now seems to be doing well.

He said it would be unfair to imprison Meehan and handed him a 16-month prison sentence, suspended on strict conditions including that he place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service.

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