A Letterkenny man who is before the court on charges of possessing drugs, possessing a knife and theft has turned his life around to such an extent that he should now be regarded as a ‘success story’.
Solicitor Mr Patsy Gallagher was addressing the case of Fintan Keeney.
The 23-year-old of Fairgreen Hill, Letterkenny, was charged with two counts of possessing drugs, two counts of possessing a knife, two incidents of theft and criminal damage.
He appeared at Letterkenny District Court this week accompanied by his mother.
However, Judge Éiteáin Cunningham said that it was now ‘encouraging’ how far Keeney had come in his attempts to rehabilitate.
On April 18, 2019, Gardai were on patrol when they spotted Keeney acting ‘nervously’. When searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act, amphetamine valued at €50 was located.
On April 25, 2019, at 11.42pm, Gardai observed Keeney emerging from an alleyway at Port Road in Letterkenny. Keeney saw Gardai and attempted to evade.
When caught, he was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act and €200 worth of cocaine was located on his person. Keeney made admissions and said the cocaine was for his own use.
At Long Lane, Letterkenny on February 17, 2020, at 5.15pm, Gardai, who were on patrol, observed Keeney, who appeared ‘nervous’.
When searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act, a large kitchen knife was located in his jacket pocket. Keeney told Gardai that the knife was for his ‘own protection’.
On August 17, 2020 at 5.30pm, Gardai responded to an allegation of criminal damage at North West Snooker Club Apartments in Letterkenny. Keeney was reported to have damaged locks at the apartments.
During a follow-up search at Letterkenny Garda Station, after his arrest, a kitchen knife was found in the waistband of his tracksuit bottoms. Keeney told Gardai that the knife was for his ‘own protection’. The court heard that damage to the value of €118.20 was caused to the property and the owner has not been compensated.
On July 8, 2021, at 12pm, Keeney stole mixed groceries from Spar at Glencar. The value of the groceries was €27.95 and the items were not returnable.
On September 29, 2021, Keeney entered Pennys at Letterkenny Shopping Centre and stole a shirt valued at €20. Keeney picked up the shirt and proceeded to a different area, where he took off his hoodie. Keeney put on the shirt and put the hoodie on over it before leaving. Keeney was subsequently stopped by security and was said to have been ‘contrite’ while making admissions.
Keeney, who the court heard has no previous convictions, spoke only to confirm pleas of guilty in each matter.
Mr Gallagher, Keeney’s solicitor, said his client ought to be regarded as a ‘success story’ and said his ‘tragic teenage years should not be fodder’.
“This is a success, a long, hard-fought success by him and his mother, who has stood by him,” Mr Gallagher said. “He has got help and his mother is here to see the success.
“This is not a battle won, but a battle ongoing.”
Mr Gallagher told the court that Keeney is complying with all directions from the Probation Services and has broken ties from people who were previously a ‘hindrance’ in his life.
Judge Cunningham said the matters were ‘concerning’ to the court but, having considered a probation report, she said the court was minded to afford Keeney the ‘best opportunity’, acknowledging the ‘huge steps and progress’ he has made.
Judge Cunningham adjourned the case until January 23, 2023. She said the six-month adjournment would allow the accused a chance to further engage with the recommendations of the Probation Service.
“It is encouraging how far he has come with the support of his mother,” Judge Cunningham said. “It is quite clear that she is a very supportive person in his life and that should be appreciated.”
Judge Cunningham said Keeney should be ‘commended’ for the steps he has taken and encouraged him to continue in that vein.