Three men who drank their social welfare cheques broke into a restaurant and stole food because they were hungry.

The three, all Polish nationals, broke into the well-known Yellow Pepper restaurant in Letterkenny on January 18th last.

The men, who had an address at 6 Fortwell, Letterkenny, stole chicken, prawns, 38 packets of coffee and other food worth a total of €300.

They later returned and stole six bottles of cooking wine but were caught on CCTV.

Some of the food was recovered but the wine was consumed.

Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said the men had arrived in Ireland six years ago and had worked in the construction industry.

However since the economic crash they had been unemployed and had found themselves in a quagmire of drink.

He described their situation as the exact same as the plight of many Irish people who had emigrated to America many years ago.

“They are good men and good workers who find themselves with no way home and nothing to go home to.

“Their compatriots are now 60 or 70 years old and the songs about their plight are all there. I would ask that they not become another statistic,” he said.

However he said that did not excuse the fact that they broke into a local business and stolen property that was not theirs.

Judge Paul Kelly said he was seeking a community service report on all three men and adjourned the case until next January.

However he warned the three men “All the court’s sympathy has ben used up. Any further warrants or charges will be looked at more seriously.“

At hearing

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