A tourist cycling in the scenic pass of the Gap of Dunloe placed her backpack on the ground only to have it stolen, a court was told.
A fellow tourist visiting the Gap, a remote glacial valley, the Sunday afternoon of July 12 last, was arrested just two days later in Portlaoise.
Connor Murray, 27, appeared on a charge of theft before Killarney District Court, sitting in Tralee. Murray had acted completely “spur of the moment,” the court was told on Tuesday.
The bag containing the woman’s mobile phone and other items was traced to the accused home in Portlaoise, thanks to an app on her smartphone.
Murray, of Parnell Crescent, Portlaoise, Co Laois pleaded guilty to the theft of a red New Balance bag, containing three jackets, two lights, two inhalers and a Samsung Galaxy Phone, the property of a woman cyclist, on July 12 at the Gap of Dunloe, Beaufort, Killarney.
When Gardai arrived at his door in Portlaoise, Murray was immediately co-operative and handed over the bag intact, the court was told by his solicitor Brendan Ahern.
“I would urge you to deal leniently with him," Mr Ahern pleaded with Judge David Waters.
“He has travelled from Laois to deal with the matter. He did not attempt to deny the theft. When gardaí arrived at his house in Portlaoise, he was more than co-operative.
“It was completely spur of the moment,” Mr Ahern also said when questioned by Judge Waters as to why a 27-year-old man with what the court was told were no previous convictions could act the way he did.
Sgt Kieran O’Connell had outlined how the woman tourist cycling in the Gap of Dunloe on July 12 stopped for a break at around 4pm that Sunday. She placed her backpack on the ground for a short period of time and walked away from it. When she returned the bag and its contents were gone.
The accused was himself a tourist on the day in question, the Sergeant said.
“He was down with his partner and children,” the garda said.
“Very rarely does a 27-year-old do something like pick up someone else’s bag on the spur of the moment,” Judge Waters remarked, asking if the accused had any previous convictions.
The court was told Murray had no convictions, but there was the possibility he had been given the Probation Act some years ago.
Judge Waters allowed Murray the Probation Act, but warned he would not get this again if a subsequent crime was committed.
Last week the Garda Press office revealed how the woman was able to track her phone to a shop in Sneem, and later to an area of Portlaoise, using a tracking app that she had installed.
She reported the matter to Gardaí in Kenmare, who reviewed CCTV from the area and liaised with Gardaí in Portlaoise. On foot of the incident, the Garda crime prevention officer in Kerry, Garda Jim Foley, warned tourists “no matter where in the world” they were or how scenic the area they must mind their property.
Gardai have also asked visitors with a smartphone to consider downloading a location finder App. The tracking app and the quick actions of the woman was the key to solving the theft in the Gap of Dunloe and to the safe recovery of the property, Garda Foley said.