Man who broke into church and damaged doors facing sentence next month

by Gazette Reporter
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By Claire Henry

A man who broke into a church and caused damage to two doors will be sentenced next month.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Paul Gibbons (48) of no fixed abode pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and two counts of criminal damage at St Paul’s Church, Avrfield, Dublin 13, on March 20, 2020. He has 59 previous convictions and was on bail at the time of this offence.

Detective Garda Neil Plunket told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that a caretaker arrived at work at 9 am on March 20, 2020. After entering the parish centre, he noticed a spade on the floor. He then noticed damage to two doors and a blood-like substance was seen leading down a hallway.

Det Gda Plunket said two doors were damaged and cost €320.20 to be replaced. Swabs of the blood-like substance were taken and sent to Forensic Ireland for analysis. CCTV footage was also obtained, and Gibbons was identified.

The court heard Gibbins presented by appointment to Coolock Garda Station, he was questioned, and a DNA sample was taken and sent to Forensic Ireland. This DNA sample matched that of the blood swab taken from the parish centre.

Det Gda Plunket agreed with John Moher BL, defending, that prior to 2017, his client was a family man with a nearly unblemished record.

The garda agreed with counsel that his client’s marriage ended in 2017, and “ his drug use drastically increased after 2017”.

Mr Moher said his client takes full responsibility for his offending.

Counsel handed a letter from the accused into court, which highlighted his shame and remorse. He said his client is also willing to pay for the damage caused to the two doors.

He asked the court to have regard for his client’s guilty plea, his pre-2017 history and that there is a foundation present for him to build his life again.

Ms Justice Orla Crowe said it is this court’s view that this is a “very unusual case”. She said the accused lived a law-abiding life for a long time, and then matters got the better of him.

Judge Crowe ordered a probation report, a urine analysis report and a governor’s report and adjourned this case for finalisation until July 28. 

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