Trainee coach sentenced over stolen monkey

Monday 11 November 2013 23.07
Marmoset, similar to the one pictured, was found in a cage in Paul Murtagh's car
Marmoset, similar to the one pictured, was found in a cage in Paul Murtagh's car

A trainee football coach, who was caught with a stolen monkey in a cage in the back of his car, has been ordered to carry out 80 hours of community service.

Paul Murtagh, 29, of Birchdale Park, Kinsealy, Co Dublin, and Lighthouse Apartments, East Wall, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to possessing "one common South American Marmoset" worth €1,500.

He was caught with the animal at Ravensdale Road, East Wall, in Dublin on 1 October 2012, hours after it had been taken during a burglary in Co Kildare.

The unemployed father-of-three, who is taking part in a football coaching course, also pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to an additional charge for unlawful possession of a stun gun at Marlborough Place in Dublin on 27 October 2009.

He had failed to get the stun gun trial thrown out on the grounds of delay.

The court heard that gardaí had found it difficult to trace him until he came up on their "radar" again when he was arrested over the stolen monkey.

Detective Garda Liam Eviston told Judge Bryan Smyth that as a result of a tip-off he stopped Murtagh's car and carried out a search.

"A monkey was found in a cage in the boot of the car," Det Gda Eviston said.

The pet monkey had been taken during the course of burglary at the home of a couple, in Co Kildare earlier in the same day.

Det Gda Eviston agreed with defence counsel Cathal Ó Braonáin that Murtagh, who had 31 prior convictions for motoring offences, was co-operative on arrest.

The animal was later returned to its rightful owners.

Det Gda Eviston said Murtagh had driven to a house with some other people to collect the monkey from a garden.

He agreed that the trainee coach had denied knowing that the animal had been taken unlawfully.

Murtagh accepted that he had been reckless in relation to his knowledge of whether or not it was stolen.

Garda Laura Conlon gave evidence on the stun gun seizure.

She told Judge Smyth that she had been on patrol at Marlborough Place in the city centre, when Murtagh pulled up and shouted "anyone buying or selling zimos".

There had been heroin addicts in the area and his comment, a reference to Zimmovane sleeping tablets, had been made as a joke, the court was told.

Gda Conlon carried out a search and found the stun gun in a schoolbag in the car.

The court heard that Murtagh had bought the weapon legally during a trip to Santa Ponsa in Spain and brought it back to Ireland.

Stun guns are banned in Ireland.

The defence said it was a "boys with toys" situation but the judge said "it is a bit more than a toy in this jurisdiction".

People he did not know well were staying at the house where he had been living at the time and he did not want the stun gun to be stolen so he kept in his car, the court was told.

He did not have it for any sinister intention and the only person he had used it on was himself, the defence lawyer told the court.

Judge Smyth noted that Murtagh had been found suitable for a community sanction.

For possessing the stolen monkey, he ordered him to carry out 80 hours work to avoid a four month jail term.

Murtagh was also told he must carry out another 120 hours of community service in lieu of a six month sentence for possessing the stun gun weapon.