Home break in attempt caught in the act by gardaí

Galway Daily news Further arrests in violent brawl investigation

One man’s attempt to break in to a home went badly wrong when gardaí interrupted him trying to pick the front door with a screwdriver.

Alan McNeil (53) of Castlegreen Avenue, Cashel pleaded guilty to multiple charges connected to an attempted home break in and one public order offence for angry and abusive behaviour in Mill Street Garda station.

The court heard that on June 11 of this year, gardaí were on patrol when they received a report about a man attempting to gain entry to a house on Fr Griffin road.

When they arrived they found Mr McNeil attempting to break into a house with multiple implements such as boltcutters, a stanley knife, and screwdriver on his person.

CCTV taken from the scene also clearly showed him attempting to pick the lock on the door, though he was unsuccessful in that effort.

The judge asked “Is that because the tools didn’t work or because gardaí arrived?”, to which the prosecuting sergeant said it was “probably both”.

Mr McNeil’s solicitor Brian Gilmartin said that there was no damage to property as a result of this and that his client was fully cooperative with gardaí.

He added that Mr McNeil is currently homeless and suffers from poor heath.

He had somehow gotten the idea that the complainant had agreed to sell him a car the court heard, but the complainant had said that he’d never seen McNeil before.

Also before the District Court was an incident from June 24 of 2016 when McNeil was in the public office of Mill Street Garda station, “shouting and screaming” while extremely intoxicated.

He was arrested and charged with public order offences after refusing orders from the gardaí to leave the station.

Mr McNeil, who is originally from Galway but lived in the UK until recently, has 41 previous convictions going back to 1983.

Those include theft by housebreaking in Edinburgh and assaulting a Constable in London last year.

McNeil received one month in prison for attempting to gain entry to a building with a screwdriver, and one month consecutive sentences each for possession of a knife and possession of implements for use in a crime.

The judge also imposed a €50 fine for engaging in offensive conduct in a public place, and seven days in prison for failing to comply with the directions of gardaí, concurrent to the other sentences.

McNeil’s sentence was backdated to June 11 when he first entered custody.

The judge said at the end of sentencing that Mr McNeil showed a “total disregard for the gardaí”.