Two men get 240 hours' community service after stealing historic artefact


Two men stole a historic artefact and dumped it in a bog because it was of no financial value to them, a court heard yesterday.

At Tullamore District Court both were sentenced to 240 hours’ community service in lieu of 10 months in prison for theft of the Precious Shrine of St Manchan from St Manchan’s Church, Boher, Ballycumber, Co Offaly, on June 1st last. Thomas Roche (39), Boyne Meadows, Edenderry, Co Offaly, and Bernard McCarthy (37), Foxdene Gardens, Clondalkin, Dublin, examined the shrine after stealing it and dumped it because they thought it was worthless. Insp Kieran Keyes said no decision has been made about whether the shrine, currently with gardaí, will be returned to the church or go to the National Museum of Ireland for safekeeping.

Garda Linda Walsh described how a local person called gardaí after seeing one of the men leave the church with the shrine and officers caught up with their green Lexus car just outside Dublin later the same day.

They told gardaí they had stopped to go to the toilet and had seen the shrine, but, on viewing it later, realised it was worthless to them. However, when they became aware of its value to the local community, she said they admitted where they had left it.

Judge Catherine Staines said that in view of the men’s co-operation, she would impose the community service order in October if each man paid €1,000 compensation.