Farm labourer Eddie Crerand, 29, embarked on a crime spree across Co Donegal just days after being freed from prison in the North.
Letterkenny Circuit Court heard yesterday how Crerand was a “habitual thief’ who had 260 previous convictions in the North including for burglary, theft, assaulting police, threats to kill, handling stolen goods, deception and rioting. He had a dozen convictions in Donegal.
The court heard how Gardai raided a caravan in Clonmany after a tip-off.
When Gardai arrived at the caravan park in May 2010, they found a stolen Nissan Pathfinder jeep outside.
Crerand, 29, managed to flee the scene but inside the caravan Gardai discovered more than €10,000 worth of stolen goods including televisions, tools, computers, a Quad, cash cards and children motorbike.
The goods were stolen in up to nine creeper burglaries which had taken place in the previous weeks.
The thefts had taken place in Raphoe, Carrigans, Convoy and Donegal Town. A stolen cash card was used in Moville.
Eleven months later, in April 2011, gardai were tipped off that Crerand was renting a house in Mountcharles.
Detetctive Robin Doyle, backed up by members of the Armed Response Unit, raided the property.
Inside they found more items including a hat taken in another creeper burglary in Leitrim and a personalised jacket stolen in Donegal.
Crerand again made a run for it but was arrested 150 metres away from the house.
Detective Doyle revealed how Crerand had removed an electronic tag after being released for prison in the North before heading across the border to Donegal.
“He would be known to us as someone who uses the Border. He will not stop for gardai when we do attempt to stop him.”
Judge John O’Hagan said: “It is terrible for any victim to have your house burgled, with strangers going through your possessions. It is like having your house raped.
“Whilst he (Crerand) has admitted to possession of stolen property, you can’t have thieves unless there is someone down the line willing to keep stolen items.”
Crerand had been interviewed on five occasions at Ballyshannon Garda Station over the space of eight hours but did not make any admissions.
He pleaded guilty to the possession offences today. A defence barrister said Crerand had been surrounded by poverty but could show no wealth as a result of his crimes.
Judge O’Hagan said that had Crerand been convicted by a jury he would have gone to jail for five years. He sentenced Crerand from Strath Aoibhinn, Stranorlar to three years in prison on each of the possession counts.
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