A GALWAY man who stole poor boxes from a Donegal pub, while dressed as a woman, has been given a suspended sentence.

Martin Cleary (35), of 31 Lois na Coille, Ballybane, Galway, appeared at Letterkenny District Court on two charges of theft.

Cleary was charged with stealing €80 in cash from the bar counter of the Village Tavern, Mountcharles on December 26, 2019. On the same date, Cleary was charged with stealing two poor boxes from Heeney’s U Drop Inn, Navenny Street, Ballybofey.

“Gardaí received a report of a group of males acting suspiciously in a a vehicle,” Sergeant Jim Collins told the court.

“Gardaí spoke with the occupants and they were dressed as females as they were doing the ‘Wren dance’ before they left Galway.”

As well as the €80 from the Mountcharles bar counter, the two poor boxes contained the collective sum of €89.06, which was later recovered.

Solicitor for Cleary, Mr Michael Shiel, said his client, a married man with five children, had suffered considerable hearing loss and doesn’t usually drink due to medication. He had never worked and had no education, Mr Shiel said.

Cleary was aided by his brother in court.

“That night he had a few drinks,” Mr Shiel said. “He had a number of individuals with him. Essentially, Mr Cleary is taking the rap for the four people. None of the others were charged, but they were all together.

“He doesn’t have a good career. He remembers very little about that night. The medication and the drink didn’t mix well and he has a very hazy recollection.”

Cleary, who has previous convictions for theft, tendered a guilty plea to what Judge Paul Kelly described as a ‘very mean-spirited crime given the time of year.’

“Whatever about the cash that someone carelessly left on the bar counter, taking two poor boxes is a particularly reprehensible thing to do,” Judge Kelly said.

“You don’t just walk off with them that easily. Given his previous record, clearly he is no stranger to taking things that don’t belong to him.”

In relation to the theft of the poor boxes, Judge Kelly imposed a three-month prison sentence, suspending the term for 12 months on Cleary’s own bond of €150.

For the theft of €80 from the bar counter, Cleary was fined €200 and given six months to pay.


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