Wicklow teenager stole two bags of cash from employer to pay drug debt
A €4,000 drug debt was ‘taxed’ and increased to €6,000 when not paid quickly, court heard before handing down suspended sentence
Stephen O’Connor (19), of Castle Manor, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after receiving a suspended sentence. Photograph: Collins Courts.
Stephen O’Connor (19) stole a total of €12,480 in order to pay off a €6,000 drug debt. He stayed off work sick after he took the second bag of cash because he said he knew he was going to be caught.
O’Connor, of Castle Manor, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of €4,890 and €7,590 from G4S Cash Services Ltd on October 31 and November 2, 2017. He has no previous convictions.
Judge Karen O’Connor said there were certain “terms” used in evidence such as “on-tick” and “taxed” referring to the fact that the teenager’s original cocaine debt had been €4,000, but had been “taxed” and increased to €6,000.
She said these terms were indicative of “the despicable and reprehensible behaviour of those involved in drugs”, giving young people cocaine “on-tick” to get them addicted to drugs and then increasing the drug debt.
Judge O’Connor said O’Connor’s drug debt was “no defence and no excuse for his criminality” and described him as “a hard working person who had made a huge mistake”.
She acknowledged that his family was helping him take responsibility for his crime. She noted that G4S had been paid back with the help of his mother taking out a bank loan, which O’Connor has to pay back.
Judge O’Connor sentenced O’Connor to 18 months in prison which she suspended in full on strict conditions.
“It is clear to me that you are making every effort to put this behind you with the help of a very loving and very supportive family. If you take their support you will never return to those days again,” the judge said before she wished O’Connor well and advised him “to put this behind you”.
Garda Ian Ward told Diana Stuart, prosecuting, that G4S noticed the cash was missing and through analysis of the CCTV footage noticed that O’Connor had been processing the cash on the relevant days.
An internal investigation was launched and O’Connor was asked to come in as he had been on sick leave. He made immediate admissions and fully co-operated with the subsequent garda investigation.
Garda Ward said O’Connor revealed he was under pressure to get money to pay back a cocaine debt that he had run up and admitted he had hidden the bags of cash under his jumper. He said he didn’t initially know how much money was in the bags.
O’Connor said he had been paying the debt back through his wages but told gardaí it seemed he was “not paying them off quickly enough”. A €4,000 debt was “taxed” and increased to €6,000.
Garda Ward agreed with Pieter Le Vert, defending, that as the theft itself was not covered on the CCTV cameras, O’Connor’s plea was “helpful” to their investigation.
Mr Le Vert said his client had since got a new job and was working to pay back his mother who took out a bank loan to pay back G4S.
Counsel said that when his client’s parents found out about the thefts, they effectively put him “under quarantine”, by taking his phone away and ensuring he was with one of them at all times.
“This is a hard working young man who is trying to rebuild his life after this terrible mistake,” Mr Le Vert said.
“It was a very serious breach of faith with his employers, his family and indeed his own self image,” counsel added before he asked Judge O’Connor to take into account his client’s lack of previous convictions and the fact that he had not come to garda attention since.