Man admits year-long series of offences including burglary, theft

Father of three stole copper piping from holiday homes and targeted vans for tools

Arrested on his release and taken to Listowel Garda station, Michael Coffey admitted to a year-long series of offences involving criminal damage, burglary and theft throughout Kerry - most of which had been unsolved by gardaí. File photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Arrested on his release and taken to Listowel Garda station, Michael Coffey admitted to a year-long series of offences involving criminal damage, burglary and theft throughout Kerry - most of which had been unsolved by gardaí. File photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

 

A man who had a previous conviction for breaking into the home of an archbishop in Kerry was last year found by gardaí while undergoing an epilepsy seizure in church grounds in Knocknagoshel after a series of burglaries across Kerry.

The Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told of a series of burglaries, thefts and criminal damage between May 2013 and May 2014.

These including the “tearing” of copper piping from vacant holiday homes and in one instance a funeral home.

Traders’ vans, tourists and farmers’ sheds were targeted for tools.

Father of three Michael Coffey, previously of Castleisland and now of Cnoc Gorm, Tralee, was on bail at the time of most of the 23 offences upon which he was sent forward on a signed plea of guilty to the Circuit Court for sentencing on Wednesday.

Coffey should not have been driving at the time, yet he criss-crossed the county in a van to commit the crimes, the court was told.

The locations included Ballybunion, Lyracrompane, Milltown, Listowel, The Kerries, Tralee, Killorglin, Tuosist, Kenmare and Clonkeen, Killarney.

Det Garda Anthony Wharton gave evidence of 11 crimes in north Kerry.

He told prosecutor Tom Rice how, on May 1st, 2014, a number of complaints of break-ins had been received.

The owners of two vans which had been broken into assisted gardaí in the search for a red van which had been spotted in the location .

“Michael Coffey was located in the church grounds having an attack of epilepsy,” Det Wharton said.

An ambulance was called and the then 33-year-old was taken by ambulance to Kerry General Hospital in Tralee.

Criminal damage

Arrested on his release and taken to Listowel Garda station, he admitted to a year-long series of offences involving criminal damage, burglary and theft throughout Kerry - most of which had been unsolved by gardaí.

Det Garda Michelle Roche gave evidence of German tourists parking a rental car to climb the steps at Torc waterfall and returning to find the window of their rental car smashed and a camera, cash and iPhone taken.

She also told of sheds at five separate locations in south Kerry which had been broken into in the search for copper and tools.

“The reality is people drive into scrap metal places and no questions are asked. There is no regulation on metal recycling and the metal recyclers are operating within the law,” defence barrister Brian McInerney said.

Coffey had serious addictions to Xanax and alcohol, but had been entirely co-operative, his counsel said. His wife, who was in court, had no part in his crimes and did not benefit.

He had 55 previous convictions for road traffic, theft, and other offences. The previous convictions included a break-in at the Tralee home of Archbishop Dermot Clifford in 2010.

Judge O’Donnell who has adjourned final sentencing said “mayhem” was the only way to describe what had taken place.

“It doesn’t matter if the property is nailed to the ground - he will still take it,” the judge remarked. Almost nothing had been recovered.

He adjourned sentencing to July, remanding Coffey in custody.