BROTHERS WALK FREE AFTER GARDAI FAIL TO PROVE CASE OF STOLEN STOVES

February 8, 2012

Two brothers who were accused of handling stolen goods had cases against them dismissed when a Judge said there was simply not enough evidence to convict them.

Michael and Martin McDonagh appeared at Letterkenny District Court charged with handling two solid-fuel heating stoves.

The heavy-duty stoves were stolen from a house at Mullaheap, Ballyare, Ramelton which belonged to Frank McGettigan.

Mr McGettigan arrived at the house, which was almost complete, to find it had been broken into and the stoves taken.

Neighbour Danielle Friel told the court that on September 2nd, 2011, two men, whom she later learned were Martin and Michael McDonagh, called to her house looking for scrap metal.

She told them to call back later when her father was there.

The men, who were in a white Transit van, then went towards Mr McGettigan’s house where Ms Friel spotted them at the side of the building.

She contacted Mr McGettigan who contacted his son Declan.

Declan McGettigan then contacted his cousin Simon and between them they followed a van they believed had taken the stoves to the Big Isle in Manorcunningham where a traveller’s halting site is situated.

They could not see who was driving the Transit van but saw it reverse up towards a storage container.

Declan McGettigan said he then saw a refuse truck come along the road close to the halting site and asked the driver if he would take him towards the site.

He did and Mr McGettigan revealed how he saw the two stoves then sitting in the container.

He called the Gardai but before they arrived, two men jumped into the Transit van and drove away towards the Derry roundabout.

They were stopped a short time later on the dual carriageway by Gardai.

Defence solicitor Paudge Dorrian said there was no evidence that either of the McDonagh brothers had ever handled the stoves and sought a direction to dismiss.

Judge Paul Kelly adjourned the case for ten minutes so he could examine all the evidence before him.

When he returned he admitted that the Gardai may have had very strong suspicions but that these were not sufficient to convict.

He said there was no evidence that anyone saw the McDonagh brothers handle the stolen goods and there was also no forensic evidence linking them to the stolen stoves.

He dismissed the charges against both men.

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