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‘Easily led’ man remanded in custody for burglaries and car thefts

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A young man from Passage West on a rampage of crime across Cork city and county carried out several burglaries and stole 14 cars in a short period.

Det. Sergeant Kieran O’Sullivan said a special investigation was set up in March this year because of the large number of burglaries taking place with the same modus operandi.

“The serious crime unit reviewed the incidents and set up a targeted approach to deal with it. We identified the suspect at Stephen Coughlan,” Det. Sgt. O’Sullivan received.

Coughlan was arrested at a house at Bridevalley View, Fairhill, Cork, where he was living at the time.

He was interviewed on three occasions about the burglaries and car thefts that occurred between March 10 and March 27.

Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to 26 separate offenses including three burglaries, two attempted burglaries, five thefts, stealing 14 cars, handling stolen property and possession of drugs at the time of his arrest.

He faced sentencing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court where Judge Dara Hayes asked if any of the properties were occupied at the time of the burglaries.

Det. Sgt. O’Sullivan said, “This would be a case where the accused would pick a house that was open. There would be no attempt to make any confrontation and no damage caused.

“If the door was locked he wouldn’t go in. If the door was open he would go in and see if the keys of the car were in the hallway. They would be taken and he would go before anyone appeared. There would never be any attempt to confront anyone.

“Getting the keys was the main purpose of the crime and it would take place between 1 am and 5 am,” the detective said.

There was no targeting of powerful cars – any type of car could be taken. Many of the cars were recovered. Three were not.

In response to a question from the judge as to how long owners were left without their cars, Det. Sgt. O’Sullivan said, “Two to seven days.” At the time of the crimes, the accused was sofa-surfing in friends’ houses. He had 226 previous convictions, including 69 for theft, 32 for stealing cars and 19 for burglary.

Defense barrister, Sinead Behan, said, “When approached by gardaí he always makes admissions and is very cooperative. He would be particularly helpful to the guards.

“He has an addiction to tablets. He is a very vulnerable young man and is easily led.” Det. Sgt. O’Sullivan said, “I would agree with that.” Ms Behan said that in the defendant’s dealings with gardaí he was always very mannerly.

Judge Dara Hayes put sentencing back until January 30 with the accused remanded in custody until then in order to allow time for a probation report.

The judge said the court’s concern was a pattern of “significant offending, significant assistance, significant penalty” and the accused coming out to commit more offenses.

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