Tougher sentencing for repeat burglaries

The Government is to shortly publish a bill which will specifically target repeat burglars and lead to tougher sentencing.

The Department of Justice yesterday confirmed its intention that the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill be shortly brought before the Oireachtas.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had signalled, earlier this year, her intention that those who “invade and disrupt the lives of citizens” through burglaries would be dealt with “robustly”.

The proposals were outlined yesterday, on the day when John O’Donoghue from Co Limerick was laid to rest. He had collapsed and died last week after thieves had ransacked his home.

Tougher sentencing for repeat burglaries

John O’Donoghue’s removal

The move to beef up the legislation is based on the premise that a significant proportion of burglaries are carried out by repeat offenders.

Ms Fitzgerald said burglary is very traumatic for the victim and there is always a danger it could escalate into an offence against the person.

Two issues have been identified which can be tackled through the legislation. They are:

  • Repeat offenders who continue to receive bail despite being charged with further burglaries while on bail.
  • Relatively short sentences being imposed when multiple burglary offences are “taken into account”.

It is envisaged the new bill will firstly provide, for the purposes of bail applications, a previous conviction for domestic burglary coupled with two or more pending charges will be evidence of a “likelihood” to commit further domestic burglaries. On that basis a court could refuse bail.

Secondly, it will place a requirement on a court which decides to impose custodial sentences for multiple burglary offences to impose such sentences consecutively.

Any sentence of imprisonment for a second domestic burglary must be consecutive to any sentence of imprisonment for any other domestic burglary committed in the six months prior to or after the second sentenced offence.


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