11 months in jail for handling stolen war medals
A 23-year-old man has been jailed for 11 months after he was caught handling war medals and jewellery of a sentimental value stolen during a burglary in Ballinamallard.
Dean Gillen, also known as Dean Rogers, initially refused to leave a holding cell when his case was called at Fermanagh Court on Monday. He then proceeded to disrupt proceedings by continually banging the cell door, complaining that he was cold. He was warned about his behaviour and when he persisted was sentenced to an extra 14 days in prison for his "wilful misbehaviour".
Gillen, from Derrin Road, Cornagrade, Enniskillen, pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving stolen goods including five World War II medals and six silver cups. He also admitted dishonestly handling gold jewellery including five rings, two bracelets and a pair of ear-rings.
A prosecutor told the court that on Wednesday, July 4, last year, the owner of a house in Ballinamallard contacted police to say his home had been broken into and a television, jewellery and other items stolen. A couple of days later two men entered the County Jewellers in Enniskillen where a member of staff purchased items for "scrap" for £190. Police searched Gillen's home at Windmill Heights in Enniskillen and recovered the five war medals in their presentation case and six silver cups. He was interviewed and admitted being in the County Jewellers but claimed he was only accompanying the other man. All of the items had been stolen from the owner's home in Ballinamallard.
The prosecutor said that on November 21, last year, Gillen was arrested for breaching his bail and taken to Omagh Police Station where it was discovered his electronic tag was missing. He could give no explanation as to how it was removed or where it was. The tag, used to monitor the movements of suspects on bail, was valued at £170.
District Judge John Meehan began by asking if Gillen was the person who had been continually kicking his cell door for over an hour.
Defence barrister Heather Philips said Gillen wasn't the only prisoner involved. She said an issue had been raised as there was no heating in the cells and they were quite cold.
The District Judge said: "He has been kicking and causing a disturbance throughout the morning. Has he not warmed up?"
Miss Philips referred to a pre-sentence report by a probation officer and said Gillen quite clearly has significant issues with substance abuse which were prevalent during his teenage years and now in his adult life. Some months prior to this his girlfriend lost her life due to her own substance abuse and ironically that led him further down a spiral of drug and alcohol taking. He was operating an "open house" where people came to drink and take drugs and a number of people brought these stolen goods to his home. He was subsequently involved in trying to sell them on.
The barrister said that in November of last year Gillen knew he had breached his bail when disposed of the electronic tag.
She told the court that while in prison Gillen has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
She said he had one "very relevant" conviction on his criminal record dating from June 25, last year, when he was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for three years.
The District Judge pointed out that Gillen committed the present offences a week or so later.
Miss Philips said he had been given probation for another offence in October and offered counselling, adding that he had spent a considerable period of time in custody.
The District Judge said the stolen jewellery and medals were not only worth a considerable amount of money but were of "significant sentimental value".
He jailed Gillen for three months for receiving and handling the items and two months for the "perfectly wilful destruction or disposal" of the electronic tag. He also activated the six-month suspended sentence and jailed Gillen for an extra 14 days for disrupting the court, making a total of 11 and a half months in prison.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 08 Jan 13