Clondalkin man stole three cars from valet service to pay off drug debt

By Sonya McClean

A MAN who stole three cars from a valet service he had previously worked for in order to pay off a drug debt has been given a suspended sentence.

Gerard Walsh (38) told gardai that his drug dealer knew he worked in the valeting company in Liffey Valley, Dublin. This man broke into the premises along with Walsh and Walsh directed him to the office where the car keys were kept.

Dublin Courts 4

Walsh of Woodford Downs, Clondalkin, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary on March 20, 2015.

He has a number of previous convictions for public order and theft offences, which were dealt with by the courts 15 years ago.

He stole six sets of car keys and three vehicles including a Volkswagen Touran, a Volkswagen Passat and an Audi A6 Avant.

The court heard while two of the cars were recovered, one was not found until a year later resulting in an estimated loss of €3500 to the owner.

Handing down a suspended three-year sentence on Friday, Judge Melanie Greally accepted that Walsh was going through difficult personal circumstances at the time of his arrest. She noted he had since made “laudable efforts” to rehabilitate himself.

She also noted that Walsh had €3500 in court to compensate his previous employer for the loss.

Garda Padhraic Broughall previously told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that three sets of locks had to be broken in order to gain access to the office. A till was damaged and €80 in cash was also stolen.

In a separate incident a set of registration plates had been stolen in Clondalkin the previous month.

Gda Broughall said the morning after the burglary gardai were alerted to a man changing the registration plate on a vehicle in the Clondalkin area.

They arrived on the scene to find Walsh sitting in the car attempting to reconnect a back light.

A set of registration plates were found in the boot of the car, along with a set of car keys. One of the stolen vehicles was later discovered in a nearby apartment complex and a set of keys that was found on Walsh opened that car.

Walsh was arrested and co-operated with the gardai, making various admissions. He said he got into some personal difficulty and owed money for drugs.

Gda Broughall agreed with Kenneth Kerins BL, defending, that his client had “an extended period of stability” before the burglary.

Mr Kerins told Judge Greally that Walsh's child became seriously ill around the time of the offence and he sought refuge in his old addiction.

Counsel said Walsh's wife took him back to the family home on the condition that he dealt with his addiction. He had since rehabilitated and was now drug free, the court heard.

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