27 Nov 2021

Defendant wanted to give back stolen phone but another person threw it into river, court told

The theft in a Donegal take away was captured on CCTV

Donegal Town Courthouse

Donegal Town Courthouse

A man who admitted stealing a mobile phone in a take away said it was a ‘moment of madness’ fuelled by alcohol.

The defendant further claimed that he couldn’t give the phone back because another man had thrown it into a river.

Sean Rooney, 44, of Apt 1 Allingham Court, Castle Street, Ballyshannon, was before Donegal District Court on Monday. He admitted theft of a Samsung Galaxy A50 phone worth €400 in Apache Pizza, the Diamond, Donegal Town on September 4, 2021.

The defendant did not have legal representation. Judge Sandra Murphy offered Rooney the opportunity to talk to a solicitor but he refused.

Inspector David Durkin told the court that a woman reported her phone missing from Apache Pizza after she had been out socialising.

Gardaí secured CCTV footage and identified Rooney as a person of interest. 

“He was seen taking the phone which had been left on the counter and placed it in his pocket,” said Inspector Durkin. 

“He was then seen outside removing the cover, discarding it and placing the phone in his pocket.”

A search of the defendant’s apartment took place but the phone was not recovered.

“It was an opportunistic theft,” said Inspector Durkin.

Rooney told the court that he had been drunk when he committed the offence.

“I never intended to keep the phone,” he said. “The next day I was going to bring it back.”

He told the court that he couldn’t give the phone back because another man had taken the phone and thrown it into the river in Ballyshannon. 

Rooney added: “It was a moment of madness when I took the phone. I would have been drinking a lot this last few years and It made me do something like that out of character.”

Judge Murphy asked the defendant if he had money to compensate the victim.

“I am on social welfare payments,” he said. “I will pay the money.”

The court heard that the defendant had no previous convictions for theft, but had a number of minor public order convictions from 2011.

Judge Murphy adjourned the matter to January 24 to allow the defendant time to raise money to cover the cost of the phone.

“I will take that into account when it comes to sentencing,” she said.

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