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Northern Ireland man caught with €9k piece of stolen machinery avoids jail term

By Isabel Hayes

A Northern Ireland man who was caught with a €9,000 (£7.8k) piece of machinery that had been stolen from an Irish Rail depot has been given a suspended sentence.

Joseph Hillen (23) told gardai he was paid €100 to drive the stolen compressor from Northern Ireland to Dublin. He refused to give the names of the people he was meeting out of fear for his own safety, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

Hillen, with an address in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to handling stolen property at a Topaz petrol station in Clondalkin on April 29, 2016.

Handing down a suspended two-and-a-half year sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said Hillen knew what he was doing was wrong.

But he noted he had met the case against him and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Detective Garda Seamus Wallace told Fiona McGowan prosecuting, that gardai investigating the theft searched a white van parked at a Topaz in Clondalkin in the early hours of the morning in question.

The machine was discovered and Hillen and another man in the van were arrested. The compressor was the property of Laois Hire and had been hired out by Irish Rail a couple of weeks beforehand, the court heard.

Hillen told gardai he met a man in the Gap O' The North pub in Jonesborough and was paid €100 to transport the machine.

He said his partner was expecting a baby and he was under financial pressure at the time.

He has 12 previous convictions, including for evasion of customs duty and road traffic offences.

A co-accused is expected to stand trial at a later date.

Defence barrister Oisin Clarke said Hillen accepted what he had done was wrong and that he told gardaí he had been very stupid.

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