Burglar who tried to forcefully get into a homeless centre avoids a jail term

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A man who twice tried to forcefully gain entry to a homeless care centre has received a fully suspended sentence.

Gary Murphy (36) went to the centre with the intention of having a “straightener” with one of the residents.

After failing to gain entry, he returned half an hour later along with other men, one of whom was holding a hammer.

Murphy of Rosemount Park, Dundrum, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted burglary and production of an article at Bentley House, Dun Laoghaire, on March 14, 2019.

He has 75 previous convictions, including convictions for assault causing harm, theft, trespass, criminal damage and drink driving.

Garda Niall Byrne told Garrett Baker BL, prosecuting, that at around midday on the date in question, a female employee at the care centre heard the buzzer of the front door ring and looked at a camera feed to see who it was.

Gda Byrne said the employee thought the accused might be a resident and opened the door slightly, only to realise she did not recognise him. Murphy, who was with a second man, asked her to get one of the male residents, but she replied that she could not give out information about him.

Murphy grabbed the handle of the front door and tried to gain entry, but did not succeed. The employee felt three or four kicks against the door from the other side and heard a male voice say to tell the male resident that “he is fucking dead”.

About half an hour later, a male employee was outside the building when he saw Murphy and the second man, who were now joined by a third man, running towards him. The employee went back inside and closed the door, but felt a bang against it and the door opened.

The three men were in the building for a number of minutes, but did not have physical contact with anybody. One of other men was carrying a hammer during this incident.

In interview with gardaí following his arrest, Murphy said he was intoxicated and had gone to the house with the intention of a “straightener” in order to settle an argument.

The court heard it was “unclear” what relationship Murphy had with the resident of the care centre. Murphy was on bail at the time of the offence.

Gda Byrne agreed with Paul Greene SC, defending, that the person who was in possession of the hammer has not been prosecuted.

Mr Greene said his client has an “historically significant addiction to alcohol”. He said his client has asserted that his recollection was “skewed” by alcohol misuse and that it was a factor in his presence at the scene.

Counsel said the court was dealing with another occasion where his client “went off the rails with alcohol misuse”. He asked the court to be as lenient as it could.

Judge Pauline Codd said the idea that the accused is going around looking for people, being involved in a dispute and entering a place that “does wonderful work” for people who are homeless is “quite outrageous”.

Judge Codd said she took into account his significant addiction issues and his being the father of a teenager. She noted that the report from the Probation Service was “largely positive” and that he has expressed guilt and remorse.

She sentenced Murphy to four years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for two-and-a-half years.

After passing sentence, Judge Codd told Murphy that she did not want to hear a thing from him and did not want him “to get so much as a speeding fine”.

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