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Topic: A gentler note
Posted by: Iris Hill
Date/Time: 18/12/15 10:48:00

This is from today's Irish Times

Ennis priest gives burglar a lift after finding him in wardrobe
Inspector says accused ‘has our hearts broken in the gardaí’
about 3 hours ago Updated: about an hour ago
Gordon Deegan
Fr Paddy Conway (inset) gave Michael Clune a lift into Ennis after Mr Clune broke into his house.

Fr Paddy Conway (inset) gave Michael Clune a lift into Ennis after Mr Clune broke into his house.

A priest gave a burglar a lift into Ennis town centre minutes after discovering him hiding in his wardrobe.

Fr Paddy Conway gave Michael Clune (30) a lift into Ennis after Mr Clune had given back the €20 he had stolen in the burglary.

At Ennis District Court, Mr Clune – who has 69 previous convictions – pleaded guilty to the burglary on December 7th at Cloughleigh, Ennis, and received an eight month suspended jail term consecutive to the eight months in jail he is currently serving.

Mr Clune of Bridgeview, Roslevan, Ennis is a regular before the local district court and addressing court, Judge Patrick Durcan said that “when you open your wardrobe, the last thing you expect to see is Mr Clune”.

He commented: “It is an appalling burglary.”

Ironically, Fr Conway – who is 73 and lives by himself – said that he had received a Christmas card from Mr Clune only days before the burglary.

The Christmas card was delivered to the Presbytery in Ennis and Fr Conway said yesterday: “Michael told me that he thought that the house was empty and didn’t know I lived there.”

Fr Conway said that he has known Michael “since he was a young lad and I was disappointed that he would do something like this”.

The assistant priest in Ennis said that he left his home for 25 minutes and returned to find a concrete block put through the window and glass all over the floor.

On searching the house, Fr Conway found Mr Clune hiding in his wardrobe and discovered that €20 was missing.

Fr Conway said: “I said more or less to Michael, ‘I know your family and I know you since you’re a young lad and why would you do that to me?’ He asked me ‘will you drive me down town?’ and I said ‘I will but first you will have to give me my €20 back’”.

The priest said that Mr Clune first denied that he took the €20 “and he started taking off his shoes and socks to prove that he didn’t have it in his shoes. He swore by all the Gods in the world that he didn’t take it”.

Fr Conway said: “I said either you give me back the money or I take you to the Garda and eventually he did give me the €20.”

Fr Conway drove Mr Clune into Ennis and along the way Mr Clune requested the priest to buy him methadone.

Fr Conway said: “He asked me to buy him methadone and I told him I couldn’t do that.”

The priest said that he decided to bring Mr Clune to another local priest who Mr Clune was friendly with.

The priest wasn’t around and Fr Conway said that he left Mr Clune “on reasonably good terms” at Ennis’s Cathedral.

However, on advice received, Fr Conway reported the incident at the local Garda station resulting in the matter coming before court.

After finding the block and the shattered glass in the back room of his house, Fr Conway said: “I wasn’t scared at any stage strangely.”

The priest said that his fears were eased when he came across Mr Clune in the wardrobe. “At least I knew him.”

Asked if the incident had made him more anxious living by himself, Fr Conway said: “No, no. Not one bit anxious, I would be much more anxious if it was someone I didn’t know.”

In court, Insp Tom Kennedy said that Mr Clune “has our hearts broken in the Gardaí”.

He said: “It is difficult for me to say anything positive about Mr Clune and I can’t say anything positive.”

Solicitor for Mr Clune, Tara Godfrey said that “it is a terrible thing that Michael did – the priest finding him in the cupboard”.

She said that Mr Clune is damaged from substance and alcohol abuse and had recently started smoking heroin.

After imposing sentence, Judge Durcan said: “It is up to Mr Clune if he wants to go back to prison or not.”

Addressing Mr Clune, Judge Durcan said: “I hope things work out well for you in prison.”

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