A judge said the only explanation for a defendant committing 16 new offences was that he believed he may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

Nathan Coughlan (21) of 15 Armada Cottages was brought before Ballyshannon District Court on Friday. He was already serving a prison sentence for assault. That sentence was imposed at Letterkenny Circuit Court earlier this month.

Judge Kevin Kilrane said the defendant had been before him many times and had offered a range of excuses for his habitual petty larceny. He told the court on those previous occasions that he was addicted to cocaine. He also said he was trying to provide for his baby daughter.

However, Judge Kilrane said it was very telling that Coughlan knew he had a prison sentence coming from the circuit court and chose to go on a spree of thefts.

Coughlan broke into church poor boxes and stole their contents in churches in Letterbarrow, Castlefin and Bundoran. He carried out further thefts in towns in Sligo, Letirim and Clare. He was also charged with burglary, driving without insurance and criminal damage.

All of the offences occurred between May 2016 and November 2017.

Defence solicitor Gerry McGovern said his client was anxious to get all matters dealt with in court because he was trying to turn his life around. There were employment programmes open to him in prison that he could not access while he was on remand.

The lengthy list of charges was read out in court by Inspector Denis Joyce.

Coughlan who pleaded guilty through his solicitor stood quietly with his head slightly bowed throughout.

Jail

Judge Kilrane sentenced him to a series of consecutive prison sentences for the 16 new charges. He also imposed custodial sentences for 17 earlier charges, to run concurrently. The total length of the sentence handed down was 19 months.

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