A stolen truck was abandoned without the handbrake being applied and it rolled down a hill into the gable end of a house – and while two of those involved in the crime disappeared, the young lookout man returned to ask gardaí if anyone was injured.
An unusual feature of the case was that the crime was committed 18 years ago and that the young man – Derek Landers – later fled Ireland and has only now returned to be sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Detective Sergeant Kieran O’Sullivan said the reason for the delay in the case coming before the court was that the accused left the jurisdiction and a European arrest warrant had to be issued.
He presented himself voluntarily to gardaí in recent times and was brought before the court The crime occurred at around 1.30am on April 26, 2003, when Derek Landers and two accomplices were involved in the theft of a DAF truck with heavy machinery on the back of it from Ballyvolane Commercial Park.
The role played by Derek Landers was that he was the lookout man and was to contact the other two men by mobile phone if anything went wrong.
As the truck was being stolen, one of those involved in the theft – not Derek Landers – got out of the truck at the top of Dublin Hill, left off the handbrake and fled from the scene. The truck rolled down Dublin Hill and crashed into the gable end of a house.
Det Sgt O’Sullivan said: “Derek Landers came back to the scene and asked was anyone hurt. He was genuinely concerned. He was arrested and questioned and he made full admissions to his part in the offence. He is 39 now and when it happened he was 21.”
In fairness to Landers, he only became aware that the theft was going to happen about half an hour beforehand and he played no part in its planning or organisation, the detective said.
Defence barrister, Emmet Boyle, said: “He was the peripheral player. He was fulfilling the role of lookout. He made good his escape on the night and could have stayed away but he came back out of decency.”
Det Sgt O’Sullivan agreed the defendant knew very little about what was going to happen that night and he was genuinely very remorseful. He admitted his part in it. And then he later left the jurisdiction.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin noted the truck and equipment worth a total of €56,000 was all recovered and fortunately very little damage was caused.
He imposed a one-year suspended jail term on Derek Landers, who was 21 at the time and is now 39. He was living in Iona Park in Mayfield at the time and now lives in Rathcormac, Co Cork.