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Burglar who spent hour and a half 'just wrecking the place' has sentence increased by Court of Appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Burglar who spent hour and a half 'just wrecking the place' has sentence increased by Court of Appeal

A burglar who spent “an hour and a half just wrecking” a family-owned garage before stealing a car he burned out at Dublin Port has had his prison sentence increased by the Court of Appeal. 

Luke Foran (21), with a previous address at West Road, East Wall, in the capital, pleaded guilty to a series offences on three bills of indictment including burglary, criminal damage, the unauthorised taking of a vehicle and theft in Dublin between March and May 2017. 

He was given an aggregate sentence of two-and-a-half years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Terence O’Sullivan on February 7, 2018. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Foran’s sentence on grounds it was “unduly lenient”. He was accordingly resentenced to five years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended on Thursday. 

Giving judgment, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said Foran entered a family-owned garage in Fairview in the early hours of March 12, 2017, and proceeded to "ransack the premises". He set off a fire extinguisher so that powder covered everything in the garage and stole a number of items. 

He stole a BMW car from the garage, drove into other cars and also into the electronic shutters. He crashed the BMW into a pole outside. He then stole a Hyundai car which he used to make his getaway. Total damage caused to the garage amounted to €20,300.

He subsequently set fire to the stolen Hyundai in the Dublin Port area.

In a victim impact statement, the garage owner said he was "astounded" by the damage that was caused. The judge said it was "over and above" a "normal burglary". Foran had spent "an hour and a half just wrecking the place".

The following May, the home of an 81-year-old lady was "ransacked" while she was out at Sunday mass. Mattresses were pulled off beds, drawers were emptied and pictures taken from the walls. Her purse containing €150 and bank cards were stolen. Later that day, Foran and another person withdrew €1,480 from her account at an ATM in Killester.

Damage was also caused to the lady's back window and door which required replacement locks costing €240.

"Returning from mass to find her home ransacked must have been a shocking experience," the judge said.

Foran was on bail at the time and any sentence had to be consecutive.

He had 33 previous convictions including two for burglary, four for stealing vehicles, five for criminal damage and nine for theft. He is the father of a newly-born child. A witness from the Solas Project, which works with young offenders, told the Circuit Court that he believed drugs to be at the root cause of Foran's offending behaviour.

Mr Justice Birmingham said these were serious offences committed by somebody with a "significant prior criminal record".

The court was satisfied that the overall sentence was "outside the norm" and "unduly lenient".

He said headline sentences of five years for the garage and arson incidents, and four years for the burglary, were appropriate.

These were reduced on account of the mitigating factors: Foran's early guilty plea, his youth and his engagement with rehabilitation services. There were indications he was using his time in custody productively. The court cut a further year to take account of the fact his sentence was being substantially increased, after he had a release date in sight, which must be “difficult for him”. 

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, resentenced him to five years imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended.