Detective believes suspect for Cork dog theft caught red-handed
Michael Molloy (28) tells court he sold car used by person who attacked owner and took animal earlier that day
French Pit Bull, Rocco, was stolen while out for a walk with his owner. Photograph: Facebook
A 28-year-old has been remanded in custody after being charged in connection with an incident where a man was attacked with a hammer and had his dog stolen in Cork city.
Det Garda Brian Murphy gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution. He said Mr Molloy made no reply to the charge when it was put to him. He said gardai were objecting to bail due to the seriousness of the charge.
He said the offence of robbery carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment and gardaí had strong evidence and believed Mr Molloy was effectively caught red-handed.
He said the State would allege that the injured party was out walking his French Pit Bull, Rocco, when a Ford Focus pulled up and a man jumped out. He said it would be alleged that the man was armed with a lump hammer, which was swung two or three times at the injured party before the attacker grabbed the dog and got back into the car.
The injured party got a partial registration number for the car as it drove off and it was traced to Mr Molloy, who contacted gardaí that night and returned the dog, Det Garda Murphy said.
He said there was high quality CCTV footage from later in the day of Mr Molloy with the dog at a business park in Churchfield. There was also footage of him taking the French Pit Bull from the back of the car near his home, he said.
Det Garda Murphy said gardaí took a very serious view of the offence, which had a huge impact on the injured party for the period his dog was missing.
“He described the dog as not being just his property but was like a child to him and the hours that he was without the dog, it was like his world had been stripped apart,” said Det Garda Murphy.
Det Garda Murphy rejected suggestions from defence solicitor Shane Collins Daly that Mr Molloy had assisted gardaí with the investigation, though he conceded he had returned the dog.
Mr Collins Daly put it to Det Garda Murphy that Mr Molloy was refusing to identify who stole the animal as there would be repercussions for him and his family if he told gardaí.
Mr Molloy told the court he was willing to reside at his home address, sign on daily at his local garda station and abide by any curfew or other requirements sought by gardaí.
He denied when questioned by Sgt John Kelleher that he had no option but to return the dog after Mr McCarthy put out an appeal for information on social media that went viral on April 11th.
“I did assist in getting the dog back for the owner but I deny I was involved in the robbery,” said Mr Molloy, who denied a dog was visible in the CCTV from near his home.
He also denied that the Ford Focus seen in the CCTV footage in the business park was his. While it was registered to him, he said he had sold it earlier on the day that the dog was stolen.
Asked by Judge Olann Kelleher why he had not transferred the ownership of the car, Mr Molloy said the new owner was paying for it on a weekly basis.
Judge Kelleher said that having heard all the garda objections in the case, he did not believe bail was suitable and he remanded Mr Molloy in custody to appear again on April 27th.
Mr Molloy was granted free legal aid after the court heard he had worked in construction up until the latest Covid-19 lockdown but was now dependent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.