A 29-year-old Dublin man who stole what turned out to be priceless golden jewellery from a pharmacy in Co Roscommon has been given a three-year suspended prison sentence.
Robert Dempsey of Earl Court, Rueben Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to the burglary of Sheehan's Pharmacy, Strokestown, on 27 March 2009.
After breaking into the premises at 4am, Dempsey took an envelope from the safe, which included a lunula neck-piece and two gold discs believed to date from 2000 BC.
Passing sentence, Judge Anthony Kennedy praised the garda investigation, which recovered the ancient pieces of jewellery.
He said excellent work had been carried out in tracing the two men who were at the scene on the night by reviewing CCTV footage on a toll road outside Dublin.
In court today, a second man, 35-year-old Anthony Dowling of Fortlawn Drive, Blanchardstown Drive, who pleaded guilty to possession of stolen goods, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Dowling had acted as a lookout at the front door of the pharmacy on the night of the robbery.
The court was told both men were out on bail having been charged in relation to other offences at the time of the robbery.
But Judge Kennedy said he noticed their background of deprivation and the fact that they had both made restitution by telling gardaí where the safe was that they had stolen.
Detective Sergeant John Costello of Roscommon gardaí told the court on Tuesday the defendants had no idea of the value of the items within the envelope, but when gardaí informed them of their national significance, they fully assisted them in locating the artefacts.
When gardaí realised the artefacts had been placed in rubbish bins at the flats on Rueben Street, immediate protection was put on all skips on the street as they were due to be collected the following day.
All the rubbish was taken to Kilmainham Garda Station and the stolen artefacts were recovered.
Sgt Costello told the court that Dempsey has since travelled to the National Museum to view the artefacts and that both men were full of remorse for what they had done.