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Tragedy behind Garda bike theft 14.05.07

A man who went into the yard of Buncrana Garda Station and walked out with an officer's mountain bike over his shoulder was a "chronic alcoholic" who had been homeless most of his life, the local court has heard.
John Saunders with an address at 13 Kirkpatrick Avenue, Blanchardstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to the offences.
Solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn said his client was only 39 years old but looked many years older because of the life he had lived. He was also on medication for paranoid schizophrenia. The court heard that Saunders had 18 previous convictions - mostly for public order offences and drunkenness - stretching back 20 years. He had served several terms in Mountjoy Jail.
Most of his offences were committed as a result of his alcoholism and he expected a further custodial sentence in July as a result of his alleged participation in the May Day riots in 2006, the court heard.
Judge Desmond Zaidan said he had to balance his judgement between the defendant's obvious mental health difficulties and protecting society from someone who could reoffend if drunk and homeless.
He imposed a six month prison term but suspended the sentence for two years on the defendant's own bond of 1,000 and on condition he remain under the strict supervision of the local Probation and Welfare Service. This would include attending alcohol counselling at the Buncrana Nursing Unit and notifying his probation officer, Ms. Duke, of any change of address.
The court heard that Saunders was currently sleeping on a friend's sofa in Buncrana and had expressed his intention to stay in the area.
Judge Zaidan instructed him not to sleep rough as it would put him at risk of reoffending. He asked Ms. Duke to give the defendant a telephone number where she could be reached if he needed emergency accommodation arranged. "Pick up the phone rather than spend a night on the streets," the judge urged him.

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