Burglar prepared to pay compensation to 'elderly' homeowner

A burglar told gardaí on learning he had broken into the house of an “elderly woman” that if he had known the age of the homeowner he would rather have cut his throat than raided her home.

Gary Byrne (aged 23) who was sentenced to three years for this and one other burglary that occurred two days earlier, said in garda interview that he had a "nanny" and he knew that “elderly women are frail”.

He added: "If compensation is necessary, I'll pay it".

Byrne of Earlsfield Court, Francis Street, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to the two burglary charges on November 24 and 26, 2008. He had 37 previous convictions for theft, trespass, criminal damage, assault and a drugs offence.

Judge Tony Hunt ordered Byrne to remain in prison until August, 2011 and suspended the balance of the sentence until Decemeber 2013. He also ordered he undergo 12 months probation supervision on his release.

Mr John Fitzgerald BL, defending, told Judge Hunt that his client had been in care since he was two years old where he was subjected to abuse.

He said Byrne, who had spent some time living on the streets, was the son of two heroin addicts. His father was dead and his mother is serving time in prison in the UK.

"The pattern of chaos he knew from an early age reasserted itself later in life," Mr Fitzgerald said while commenting on his client's criminal history.

He told the court that Byrne is now in a stable relationship with a very supportive partner and they have a two-year-old son together.

"He is anxious now to turn his life around", Mr Fitzgerald told Judge Hunt.

Judge Hunt said that Byrne was "progressing down the road of criminality" having noted that this was his first time before the Circuit Criminal Court.

He told Byrne that he either could be a support to his young boy or be a father to him through the “perspex glass of a prison”.

Garda Justin Barker told Mr Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that the woman had been alerted to the break-in of her home by gardaí and returned to find that a hedge clippers had been taken from her garden shed in an attempt to force entry into the house. Nothing had been taken.

He said Byrne was later arrested and was informed by gardai that the “elderly” woman was in her late fifties or early sixties.

Byrne then commented if he had known that it he would rather have cut his throat than break into her home.

Garda Tighe O'Leary said that two days earlier a woman had returned home to her flat to find her bedroom ransacked. A laptop, mobile phone and a MP3 player had been taken. Her housemate later discovered that €50 in cash and her laptop had also been stolen.

Byrne later admitted to arriving at the house once an accomplice had gained entry. He said he picked up the laptops and arranged for them to be sold for €500 and an ounce of hash.

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