Life in rural County Sligo has been shattered for a couple after their property was stolen, Sligo District Court has been told.
The Dublin couple had a holiday home near Gurteen, but after the theft they said their sense of refuge was replaced by fear and apprehension on each visit.
They were among a number of victims of Benny Hanberry, 57, of Kingsland, Boyle, who appeared in Sligo Circuit Court for sentencing last Friday after pleading in five counts including theft and possession of stolen property.
He admitted that Keash stole a €100 Florabest electric hedge trimmer from Pat Ward’s property between July 31, 2020 and November 11, 2020 in Knockconnor.
Hanberry further admitted that he was in possession of a stolen Makitu holdall and 6 piece multi set on November 11, 2020 in Ardmoyle, Kingsland.
Also at the same date and address with possession of stolen Draper hedge trimmers and a Stiga hedge trimmer.
On 4 March 2019 he stole seven steel grinders worth €500 from Rachel Hiley’s property in Clooneagh, Gurteen and on 30 October 2020 he entered a building in An Crannóg, Moygara, Gurteen as an intruder.
Mr. Leo Mulrooney BL (Public Prosecutor) with Prosecutor Elisa McHugh told the court that the defendant was tried on October 7, 2021 on five counts, with a guilty plea on one of the counts and a plea bargain on November 16 on two further counts last on 28 January.
These pleas in law have been presented on all counts on the basis of complete facts, with two being considered.
Sergeant John Walsh explained to the court that on October 30, 2020 a Riello burner unit and boiler thermostat control for a central heating boiler were stolen from Ciaran Walsh’s holiday home at a combined cost of €500. The witness said he viewed CCTV footage of the property and was able to identify the number plate of a used car.
The burner unit and boiler thermostat had been stolen from an outbuilding attached to the house.
The vehicle was registered on Hanberry and Sgt. Walsh went home, searched the property under warrant and items were seized.
Hanberry was subsequently arrested.
Hedge trimmers had been stolen from the Keash home of Pat Ward, for whom Hanberry had worked.
Sgt Walsh said Mr Ward identified the hedge trimmers at Ballymote Garda Station without realizing they had been stolen.
Seven steel beams had been stolen from Rachel Hiley’s holiday home and the incident was also caught by CCTV.
Sgt. Walsh said the defendant told him he had borrowed the carriers and intended to return them, even though he had owned them for over six months at the time.
Regarding other items, Hanberry claimed the tools were sold to him, but that was not the case.
The defendant had no prior convictions.
Sgt. Walsh read the victim’s effects statement to the court.
Pat Ward said his hedge trimmer was stolen between August and July 2020. He said Hanberry was an acquaintance of his and that it was shocking for him to know who he was dealing with.
“I trusted Mr. Hanberry and actually referred Mr. Hanberry to family and friends.
“All I can say is that I’m really shocked that people thought I was such a fool,” he said.
Rachel Hiley has stated that she and her husband had a holiday home in Clooneagh, Gurteen and seven steel beams were stolen in March 2019. This delayed the reconstruction of the house and a garage.
This was particularly stressful for her husband. They had considered moving to Gurteen permanently because of the relaxed and safe environment.
“However, in my view, that view of Gurteen has been negatively altered as a result of the defendant’s actions, which is a shame,” she said.
She added that she and her husband lent the defendant the straps if he really needed them.
Darragh McDonagh, whose hedge trimmers were stolen, said it was hard to believe it was hard to believe that a person who was given a few pounds to do a few chores around the house and then went to the handling his hedge trimmers was hard to believe.
“It really is a breach of trust. I’m glad I have my hedge trimmer back and I’m sure I’ll be more careful about trusting people in the future,” he said.
Ciaran Walsh and Rachel Mooney, whose burners and boiler thermostat were stolen, said their Gurteen vacation home was their place to relax, unwind and recharge, where they enjoyed an oasis of calm and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of work and life in London and Dublin.
“That sense of refuge has been replaced by fear and apprehension every time we visit him, even now 18 months later, and fearing that we may arrive to find another incident where our safety is breaching, our property damaged and our property stolen. ” Said.
Ms Elaine Finneran BL (instructed by Ms Kelechi-Njoku, Solicitor of Mullaney’s Solicitors) submitted that Hanberry was the father of a son and a daughter and was in the process of separating from his wife as a result of his offence.
He was a small farmer who had also been working on a rural program with the Roscommon LEADER partnership since 2004 and a reference from this employer was filed in court.
Ms Finneran stressed that the accused had no criminal record and had €1,000 in court from the sale of cattle as compensation.
The lawyer said it had been admitted that it was a breach of trust.
She asked for indulgence.
In response to Judge Staines, Sgt. Walsh said all injured parties would have their property returned.
However, the burner unit was not functional. It would cost €500 for new equipment and installation costs. There was also a cost of €70 to replace a wireless CCTV camera and memory card.
Judge Staines said there was clearly a lot of planning involved, particularly in relation to stealing the steel beams, which required the use of a trailer.
The residents’ sense of security had been violated, she said.
There is also a sense of breach of trust that the defendant failed people he worked for, the judge said.
She praised the excellent detective work in arresting the accused.
The judge ordered Ciaran Walsh to pay €600 and Rachel Hiley €400.
Judge Staines sentenced Hanberry to three years in prison but suspended the sentence for two years.
He was also required to keep calm for two years after his release from prison and to behave decently after serving a year.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/courts/boyle-farmer-57-who-admitted-theft-and-possession-of-stolen-tools-is-jailed-for-a-year-41637854.html Boyle Farmer, 57, who admitted theft and possession of stolen tools, has been jailed for a year