An 18-year-old who burgled a house with a number of other youths on the morning that two gardai were killed when their patrol car was rammed by joyriders has been given three years detention by Judge Michael White.
Dane Fish was arrested later that day in possession of a laptop computer, which was stolen in a different burglary by the youths driving the stolen car which killed Garda Tony Tighe and Garda Michael Padden on April 14 last.
The two gardai were killed instantly when a stolen Mazda MX5 rammed into their car on the Stillorgan dual carriageway.
Fish, from School Street Flats, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of burglary and two counts of handling stolen property on April 14, 2002. He has nine previous convictions.
Garda Janice Byrne told Ms Orla Crowe BL, prosecuting, that Fish and a number of other youths broke into a house at Stradbrook Hall, Blackrock, in the early hours of the morning on the date in question.
The house was owned by Mr Michael McMahon, who was away with his wife at the time. His sister, Helen McMahon, was in the house looking after Mr McMahon's three children.
Fish stole a laptop computer and case, a walkman, two sets of house keys and €100 in cash. The burglary was not noticed until later that morning and the gardai were contacted.
Garda Byrne said she spotted Fish later that morning carrying a laptop on the South Circular Road. Fish told Garda Byrne that his uncle owned the computer but he was unable to say where his uncle was.
He was taken to Kevin St garda station and admitted that the computer was stolen. A small stolen torch was also found in his possession. Garda Byrne said the laptop was not the computer that he had taken in the burglary in Blackrock.
That laptop was taken in a separate burglary at Bay View in Dalkey earlier that morning by the same youths who were driving the car that resulted in the deaths of Garda Tighe and Garda Padden.
Mr Luigi Rea BL, for Fish, said that he went out with a group of friends but he recognised that his behaviour was unacceptable. He lived with his mother and grandmother and rarely saw his father because of his own problems with the authorities.
Judge White said that Fish had pleaded guilty to a very serious offence and that a substantial amount of property had been stolen.
"This is the first time that you have appeared in the Circuit Court and this court has the powers to impose much greater periods of detention or imprisonment than you may have been used to in the District Court or the Children's Court," he told Fish.
"I recognise that you have not had much of a chance in life but if you progress down the line that you are going eventually you will receive a very substantial period of imprisonment - the choice is yours."
Judge White suspended the last 15 months of the sentence on condition that Fish stayed out of trouble for two years after his release from prison and stayed under the provision of the probation services.
"This is the only chance that you will get from this court and if you do not avail of it you will have to serve that 15 months on top of any other offence that you may be convicted of," he concluded.