Suspended terms for role in treasures theft


TWO DUBLIN men have received suspended jail sentences for their role in the robbery of priceless “national treasures”, now in the National Museum, which they unwittingly dumped in a rubbish bin.

Gardaí had to place a protection order on rubbish dumped outside flats in Dublin and go through the contents of a skip to retrieve the 4,000-year-old artefacts, a lunula and two gold discs, Roscommon Circuit Court heard.

Both accused were on bail at the time of the offence and Judge Anthony Kennedy said that while he would not go so far as to recommend they get a finder’s reward, he said he would give them credit for co-operating with gardaí and helping to ensure that these treasures were found.

Robert Dempsey, Earl Court, Reuben Street, Dublin, who pleaded guilty to burglary at Sheehan’s Pharmacy, Strokestown, Co Roscommon, on March 27th, 2009, was given a three-year suspended sentence.

The court was told that since the robbery he had gone to the National Museum to view the artefacts which they had dumped.

His co-accused Anthony Dowling (35), Fortlawn Drive, Blanchardstown, Dublin, who pleaded guilty to possession of stolen goods, was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Dowling, who acted as a lookout at the front door of the pharmacy on the night of the robbery, was given an eight-year sentence last month for his role in a serious assault.

Judge Kennedy heard that on the night of the raid at Sheehan’s pharmacy, Dempsey had used his shoulder to “bust” open the door while owner Sunniva Sheehan slept in the adjoining residence.

The judge praised the “excellent” Garda investigation. Gardaí tracked down the cars used in the raid through CCTV footage from a toll plaza which caught them as they headed back to Dublin at about 5am.

Det Sgt John Costello of Roscommon Garda station, who carried out searches at addresses at Reuben Street and in Finglas, said the accused had no idea of the value of the goods stolen but helped to locate them when told that they were of “national significance”.

A protection order was placed on rubbish which was due to be collected from Reuben Street the following day, and the contents of a skip were removed to Kilmainham Garda station. Sgt Costello subsequently discovered the lunula and gold discs.

Judge Kennedy said there was no explanation as to why the men had come to Strokestown but it was ominous they had targeted a pharmacy as if looking for drugs.

The court heard that the men had stolen the safe containing the artefacts and other papers as well as some cosmetics, aftershave, deodorants and medication. The artefacts, which date back to 2000 BC, had been placed in a safe 50 years earlier by Ms Sheehan’s father and were in an A4 envelope. The defendants had thrown the envelope into a black refuse bag which they dumped.

Judge Kennedy was told that both men came from poor backgrounds. Dowling had been on methadone for 10 years having gone on heroin at 17. He was jailed last month for his role in an attack on a man whose hand was chopped off with a sword in a Dublin pub.

Dowling had been armed with a claw hammer while his accomplice had used a samurai sword to sever the hand in the Deputy Mayor pub in Meekstown in January 2008.