Two suspected burglars, who were found soaking wet and covered in muck, told gardaí they were in Galway late at night having affairs with married women.
Members of the armed Regional Support Unit along with detectives, Gerry Carroll and Ronan Leonard, responded to a call from a homeowner that a 4x4 with two occupants was acting suspiciously in his area on the outskirts of Galway City.
They stopped Declan Meehan, aged 44, of 2 St Patrick’s Arch, Gerald Griffin St, Cork, and Sean Hogan, 39, with addresses at Cuirt na Greine, Castlemartyr, and Churchfield Road, Cork, in a two-seater vehicle at Twomileditch, Castlegar, at 2.50am on May 10 last year and carried out a search.
Hogan was driving. Gardaí found a crowbar, two bolt cutters, numerous Stanley knives, gloves, screwdrivers and several small torches thrown on the floor between the two seats.
Both men pleaded not guilty before Galway District Court to being found in possession of the implements with the intention they be used in connection with theft/burglary.
Hogan did admit driving without insurance or a driving licence on the night because he was already disqualified for 10 years.
After hearing evidence during the fully contested hearing, Judge Mary Fahy said it was clear that the Cork men were not in Galway that night for “romancing or dancing” and she sentenced both of them to 12 months in prison for having the implements in their possession.
She imposed an additional four-month sentence on Hogan for driving without insurance while already disqualified, and disqualified him from driving for 10 years.
Garda Leonard told the hearing he searched Meehan at the scene and found gloves, a torch and a Stanley knife in his jacket pocket. He said he believed the tools in the vehicle and the items found on the accused were intended for the commission of burglaries.
“Both of them were soaked and covered in muck. It was a bad night and it was evident they had been out in the elements,” he added.
Det Carroll told the hearing he arrested Hogan at the scene. He found two testers and a number of blades in his possession. Judge Fahy observed that the testers could be used to check if house or business alarms were working.
During interview, Hogan told gardaí he had worked as a concrete pourer before injuring his back. He said he was waiting on an insurance claim in relation to that injury.
He told gardaí the vehicle belonged to a friend and the tools in the vehicle were his friend’s work tools.
Hogan said he was wet and mucky because he had got out of the jeep to go to the toilet at the side of the road.
He changed his story while giving evidence in court, claiming the van belonged to his brother who was a roofer and he used the tools in his line of work.
When asked by his barrister, Garry McDonald, why he was in Galway that night, Hogan replied:
Mr McDonald pressed him, asking if he was having an affair. Hogan replied: “Yes, but I don’t want to mention the woman’s name. I feel ashamed I was having a relationship because the woman concerned is married.”
Judge Mary Fahy asked him would it not be better to have the woman come into court to give evidence on his behalf.
She also wondered why was he going home at 3am if he was having an affair: “It mustn’t be a very satisfactory affair if you were going home at 3am on a bad night.”
Judge Fahy convicted both accused, saying theirs was a “cock and bull” story.
Leave to appeal was granted.