Two men accused of posing as gardaí in home of woman (83) refused bail

The men, both homeless, are charged with a series of burglaries in Cork

Two men have been remanded in custody after they were charged with a series of burglaries including one where two intruders broke into the home of an 83-year-old woman in the middle of the night and stole over €2,700 in cash.

Anthony Horgan (44) and Christopher Jones (27) were brought before a special sitting of Cork District Court following a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in the Tower Street area of Cork's southside on Friday morning.

Mr Jones of no fixed abode and Mr Horgan, also of no fixed abode, were both charged with five burglaries of houses on High Street, Frankfield Villas, O'Connor Ville and Tyrone Place in Cork, all on the night of April 16th/17th.

They were also charged with a burglary of a house on Great William O'Brien Street on the city's northside on April 9th and with handling stolen property at the Spar Shop on Leitrim Street, also on the city's northside, on April 17th.

Mr Horgan was further charged with two other offences, namely possession of a knife at Pope's Quay in Cork city centre on April 17th and threatening to cause criminal damage to a window at Togher Garda Station on April 18th.

Garda Mark Leonard and Garda Keith Cahill gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution in relation to both accused and told the court that neither man made any reply when each of the charges were put to them after caution.

Det Garda Padraig Harrington said gardaí were objecting to bail for both men as they feared that they would commit further offences and would not stand trial if granted bail on the charges.

He said gardaí were grounding their objections to bail on the seriousness of the charges against them and the nature and strength of the evidence against both accused who were arrested on Pope’s Quay on April 17th

He said the state would allege that both men broke into a five occupied houses by popping their front door locks in the Tower Street/High Street area of the city’s southside in the early hours of April 17th.

‘Sleeping woman’

He said the state would allege that in one case they woke up an 83-year-old woman sleeping in her downstairs bedroom and told her that they were gardaí and that they were checking out reports of burglaries in the area.

He said the state would allege that the accused asked the woman where she kept her money to check if it was okay and when the woman told them where she kept the cash, they stole €2,700 and £80.

The state would allege that gardaí got CCTV footage showing two men which matched descriptions of the culprits given by witnesses and when arrested, the accused were wearing clothing matching that described by witnesses.

He said Mr Horgan made partial admissions in relation to handling a stolen credit card at Leitrim Street and Mr Jones admitted his involvement in the burglaries, including pointing himself out on CCTV footage.

He said Mr Jones was a self-admitted heroin and crack cocaine addict and that the state would allege that he had spent around €1,200 of his share of the cash stolen from the pensioner by the time he was arrested less than 12 hours later.

He said the state was also concerned the two would not stand trial as they were both homeless, living in a squat in the Blackpool area and in Mr Jones's case, he had been homeless for a considerable time with little family support.

Mr Horgan took the stand and told his solicitor, Diarmuid Kelleher that he would turn up for his trial if granted bail and that he would be willing to sign on at his local garda station and abide by a curfew.

‘Loss of services’

Mr Jones's solicitor, Eddie Burke said that he was disappointed to see his client in court as he had been doing relatively well of late but the Covid-19 pandemic had led to the loss of all support services upon which he was dependent.

Judge John King said he was concerned Mr Jones could commit further serious offences if granted bail and he was concerned Mr Horgan was a flight risk and might not stand trial if he was granted bail so he was refusing both men bail.

Insp Sean McCarthy said gardaí were seeking a remand in custody until April 22nd for DPP’s directions and Judge King remanded both men to appear again in court on that day by video link and he granted both men free legal aid.