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
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
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