Stolen iPhone's tracking software leads gardaí to thieves

Gardaí used the tracking software on a stolen iPhone to find house burglars driving a stolen car, a court has heard.

Kildare man James Farrelly (aged 19) was one of three men caught “red-handed” by gardaí after the burglars had stopped the car in order to go through their stolen haul.

The group then led gardaí on a high-speed chase which only ended after local gardaí in Tankardstown, Co Meath put a “stinger” device across a road to deflate the tyres of their car.

Detective Sergeant Paul Tallan told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that the three burglars ran into nearby fields. He said he arrested Farrelly in a ditch after the garda helicopter had been deployed.

Farrelly of Riverside Park, Roseberry, Newbridge, Co Kildare pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Hadleigh Green, Castleknock, Dublin on January 7, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to stealing two bicycles from PJ Fogarty at Stockton Green, Castleknock on the same date.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced him to three years imprisonment but suspended the last two years for a period of two years.

Det Sgt Tallan told the court that Farrelly and two other men stole the bikes first and used them to cycle to the home of Paul Heffernan at Hadleigh Green.

They forced their way into Mr Heffernan’s home and took the keys to his Mercedes. They also stole a handbag, an iPhone, and an iPad.

When Mr Heffernan returned home, he raised the alarm and gardaí used the iPhone’s GPS software to track the burglars to Meath.

The court heard that Farrelly has 46 previous convictions including two for burglary and being a passenger in a stolen car. At the time of this offence he was on bail in relation to a burglary in Wicklow and was also serving the suspended part of a prison sentence.

Kitty Perle BL, defending, said her client was caught red-handed and that he later told gardai he was sorry for his actions.

She said that Farrelly suffered a harrowing level of abuse as a child. This abuse has led to the criminal prosecution of his mother’s former partner.

She added that a psychiatrist stated that Farrelly’s position in life is linked to this abusive childhood.

Judge Nolan noted this but said Farrelly had become a menace to society.

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