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Man jailed for charity shop burglary and stealing an elderly man’s savings

A received a combined jail sentence of 21 months in prison for charges including burglary at a charity shop and stealing money an elderly man was saving to visit his grandchildren in England.

Thomas Ward (41), with a former address at Gilmartin Road, Tuam pleaded guilty to a total of eleven charges of burglary, theft, and trespass at Galway District Court.

Judge Mary Fahy said that “it’s very hard to say anything positive about this man” after hearing the details of the charges.

When a letter of apology was presented to the court judge Fahy said an apology “won’t carry that man on a boat or plane to England”.

The court heard evidence that on October 16 of last year Ward broke into a home at Fahy Apartments, Eglinton Street.

While he was there he stole money belonging to a 77 year old man, who was saving to go visit his grandchildren in England.

This had a “devastating” impact on the man, Gardaí said, because the money was not recovered and he was of limited means.

The following day Ward tried to break into the same apartment once again, but the locks had been changed.

Two charges of trespass were also brought in connection with the burglary, as he trespassed on the grounds of the Hole in the Wall pub to get to the apartment.

Ward also pleaded guilty to stealing a safe with €1,000 in cash and an 18 karat gold Claddagh ring worth around €900 from the Irish Cancer Society charity shop on Merchants Road.

Garda Declan Murphy said that the back door of the shop was forced open, and that the office door had been cut in half to get to the safe.

None of the money or property of the charity shop was recovered the District Court was told.

Like the elderly man’s home, he was also caught committing burglary at Wards Hotel in Salthill on two occasions last October.

On October 21 he got into the hotel by pretending he was staying there, and stole €2,500 in cash which belonged to the hotel.

Less than a week later, on October 26, he broke in again through a damaged skylight and stole €200 in cash.

On both occasions he was identified on cctv footage from the hotel.

Gardaí also said that on September 29 of 2018 he went to Garveys Inn on Eyre Square during business hours, where he went behind the counter and stole a safe containing €300 in cash as well as credit card reciepts

The final charges before the court were the theft of €40 from a woman’s handbag she had left in the staff room at Gala on Prospect Hill, and stealing €20 from the jacket of a staff member at the Park House Hotel last October.

As well as driving without insurance and failing to remain at the scene after a hit and run with another car on Sliabh Rua, Ballybane on October 5, 2018.

Mr Ward’s solicitor Sean Acton said that his client has a serious drug addiction, which led to debts which he paid through crime.

Before passing sentence Judge Fahy remarked that Ward was “very persistent” in returning to the same locations repeatedly.

This showed “forethought and premeditation” she said, which exacerbated the offences.

Credit was given for time served since Ward went into custody last November, and recognisance was set at €1,200 in the event of an appeal.

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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