A man who posed as a garda after breaking in to the home of an 83-year-old woman in Cork city during the first Covid-19 lockdown has been jailed for six years.
Anthony Horgan (44) of no fixed abode was involved in the burglary of five houses in the Tower Street/High Street area of Cork city on April 17th 2020.
Horgan, who has 88 previous convictions, was charged with and pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and one count of aggravated burglary.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard evidence from Det Garda Joe Young who said that Mr Horgan, and his co accused who has previously been sentenced before the court, popped door locks in the middle of the night.
In one house they encountered a woman who woke having heard noise. They told the old lady that they were gardaí and were checking out reports of burglaries in the area.
The men asked the householder where she kept her money in order to check if it was still there. They then robbed €2,500 in cash and £80 Sterling from her. They also took a confirmation card which the pensioner had written which contained another €200 in cash.
Dt Sgt Young said the pensioner had been cocooning when she encountered the robbers who were in and out of her house within four minutes shortly after 4am on April 17th, 2020.
The pair had started their thieving shortly before 2am on the night when they broke in to the house of a married couple on High Street and stole bank cards. They used the cards to make purchases at a Spar shop.
Shortly before 4am they broke in to a house in Frankfield villas, where a couple lived with their one-year-old child. They left with coins.
Having left this house the thieves broke in to the property next door, but they fled when a man woke and asked them what they were doing. They also broke in to a house in Tower Street.
Then shortly after 4am they entered the house of the 83-year-old in Tyrone Place.
Both men were arrested 12 hours after they broke in to the house of the elderly lady.
Gardaí recovered €1,600 in cash which the men had given to a third party in order to keep it safe. A small amount of cash was recovered on the men when they were arrested.
Previously on April 9th, 2020 the men had broken in to a house in Great William O’Brien Street in Cork city. Armed with a baseball bat the men stole a wallet which one of the the householders recovered after he chased the men.
Defence barrister, Alison McCarthy, said her client identified himself to gardai on CCTV when arrested for questioning. She emphasised that he used no violence in the course of the robberies.
She said Mr Horgan was a lifelong drug addict who started offending in his twenties when he became addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.
Ms McCarthy emphasised that her client hailed from a respectable family and would have lived a regular life only for his drug addiction.
She said that Horgan had stayed out of trouble for a period when he lived in Midleton. However, his problems had reemerged when he moved back to Cork city.
Ms McCarthy attempted to give Judge Sean O'Donnabhain a letter from a doctor detailing Mr Horgan's vulnerabilities. However, the judge said that "everybody was willing to write a letter" and that he would only listen to the evidence if the doctor appeared in court to present it.
Judge O'Donnabhain said that the crime spree carried out by Horgan and his co accused was "chaotic" and seemed to lack pre-planning.
Aggravating factors included that the 'escapade' happened during lockdown in occupied houses. He said that the men had "fronted the lady in the house saying they were guards and stealing from her. "
He stated that Horgan had the presence of mind to stash the monies stolen with a third party. Taking Mr Horgan's long track record of criminality in to account he jailed him for 7 years suspending the final year of the sentence. He backdated the sentence to when Mr Horgan entered custody in April of last year.
He added that Horgan seemed "predisposed to this type of offence" and had no prospect of rehabilitation.