Confused burglar who woke house opens front door to allow gardai in, court hears

By By Fiona Ferguson and Brion Hoban

A would-be burglar who told the occupants of the house he entered that someone was after him and replied "good" when they told him gardaí were on the way, has received a partially suspended sentence.

James Smith (35) of Mostrim Oaks, Ballymahon Road, Edgeworthstown, Longford, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespass with intent to commit an offence at Bloomfield Avenue, Dublin, on October 4, 2015.

Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Smith to three and a half years imprisonment, but gave him credit for 17 months he had already spent in custody and suspended the remainder of the sentence.

Garda Kevin Carthy told James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, that the homeowners were woken in the early hours of the morning by a noise downstairs. They shouted down the stairs that gardaí were on the way.

The man shouted back up the stairs that he needed help and this was good because someone was after him. He appeared to be confused by a curtain at the door downstairs but was directed by the family to open the door to gardaí when they arrived.

Smith was arrested and told gardaí that he had broken into the house to steal things he could sell. He said he needed money fast and did not know there were people in the house.

He had smashed a kitchen window with a plant pot. He said he had taken drugs and was very sorry.

Gda Carthy agreed with Mr Dwyer that Smith had significant psychological issues and was a drug user. He agreed with Sandra Frayne BL, defending, that nothing was taken from the house.

Smith has 116 previous convictions which include 17 convictions for burglary.

Judge Codd said the aggravating factors in the case were the number of previous convictions, that Smith had smashed a window during the incident and the negative impact on the family.

She said the mitigating factors were Smith's guilty plea, his difficult personal circumstances including brain damage and his history of addiction.

Judge Codd suspended the remainder of the sentence on condition that Smith engage with probation services, attend drugs counselling, and keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of two years.

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