05 Jul 2022

Serial burglar who swung punches at Dundalk homeowner fails in bid to have jail term cut

 Serial burglar who swung punches at Dundalk homeowner fails in bid to have jail term cut

A serial burglar who was throwing punches in the street when he was apprehended by the owner of a house he had just raided has lost his bid to have his jail term cut.  

Daniel Leonard (32), of Barton Park, Dundalk, Co Louth, was jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to theft, assault, and burglary at a residential premises on Chapel St, Dundalk, on June 28, 2020. 

Leonard later appealed the severity of the sentence handed down to him at Trim Circuit Criminal Court last May by Judge Marina Baxter. 

In papers submitted to the Court of Appeal, lawyers for the appellant conceded that their client had been detained in the street by a homeowner moments after the man and his son had realised they had been burgled. 

Leonard, the submission stated, had just stolen a bicycle, a car key, and a power drill from the house when he was confronted beside the man’s car. 

Leonard then began to throw punches at the man before being restrained until gardai arrived at the scene and arrested him.  

All the stolen property, except the bicycle, were later recovered. 

Leonard, a father of two who has five previous convictions for burglary, has since claimed the sentencing judge failed to take into account his personal circumstances at the time of the offence and the fact he had been addicted to drugs for several years when he was arrested. 

The judge had also failed to give sufficient weight to his early plea of guilty and the efforts he had made to rehabilitate himself since being placed in custody, the appellant claimed. 

At the Court of Appeal today (Monday, February 14th), Kitty Perle BL, for Leonard, said her client was now “drug free” after making a “massive effort” to combat his addiction whilst in prison. 

“His addiction was the main factor behind this offence and his previous offences,” Ms Perle said.  

Geri Silke BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that that a steel bar which did not belong to the homeowner, had been found in the house shortly after it had been raided by Leonard. 

The appellant had also been in possession of a pen-knife when he was arrested, counsel added. 

“Given the circumstances, there was no error in principle [in sentencing],” Ms Silke told the three-judge court. 

On hearing submissions, Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, said Leonard had just committed “burglary followed by theft followed an assault” when he had been arrested.  

“You have to sentence globally here to reflect the gravity of the offending,” Mr Justice Edwards noted.  

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, who was also sitting with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said: “We can only interfere [with a sentence] if we see an error in principle and we do not see an error in principle in this case.” 

Mr Justice McCarthy, however, commended Leonard on his “substantial efforts” to rehabilitate himself away from drugs, describing the appellant as a “chronic addict”. 

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