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39-year-old man jailed for five months for stealing from church boxes using 'ingenious' lollipop device

Zan Dolinski’s behaviour was condemned by Judged Patrick Durcan as being ‘contemptible’.

shutterstock_517434208 Source: Shutterstock/Maria Rom

A JUDGE HAS jailed a 39-year old Polish man for five months for ripping off a number of churches in Co Galway and Co Clare with a ‘lollipop stick’ device.

In jailing married father-of-two, Zan Dolinski, Judge Patrick Durcan at Gort District Court said that the accused had engaged in “a horrible type of offending by going into a sanctuary with his lollipop stick and sellotape and stealing from where people go to worship”.

He said: “It is contemptible behaviour.”

In sentencing Dolinski, Judge Durcan said that he had offended against people who donate money to religion; against churches which are places of worship and against charitable purposes because the money collected in the boxes were for charity.

Dolinski of Craughwell, Co Galway, stole from churches at Kilkee and Miltown Malbay in Clare in August and stole from St Colman’s Church, Gort, in south Galway on three separate occasions last July.

In an interview yesterday, parish priest of Gort Fr Tommy Marrinan said that the thefts “were a mean thing to do”.

He said: “It was a theft against the community.”

In court, Garda Inspector Michelle Barker said that Dolinski managed to steal the coins from the coin boxes at the churches concerned by inserting a stick through the holes in the coin-boxes, with sellotape at the end, to attach to the coins.

‘Ingenious’

Fr Marrinan admitted that Mr Dolinski’s method of stealing was ‘ingenious’ and said that on the first occasion it didn’t take a lot of of time for him to steal “a substantial amount of money’ from the box at Gort Church.

Fr Marrinan said that the man managed to steal the monies without tampering with the lock to the coin box. He said that the local sacristan informed him that the church had been victim of a theft.

Fr Marrinan said that the church then ensured that there was less money in the coin boxes on the two successive occasions where Dolinski carried out his scheme.

He said that CCTV in the church helped to identify Dolinski when he returned to steal from the church.

Fr Marrinan said: “This was a place in the church where parishioners would light a candle for their prayers and make a donation. The money donated was only for the upkeep of the church – the money has nothing to do with the priest.

Plastic strip

The priest said that he was “glad that the thieving has stopped – you can’t have someone stealing against you on a continuous basis”.

In the case, Dolinski pleaded guilty to stealing from Fr Gerry Kenny at St Flannan’s Church in Kilkee between 6 August and 12 August, from Willie Healy at St Joseph’s Church, Miltown Malbay, on 3 August, and from Fr Marrinan at St Colman’s Church on 9, 16, and 23 July.

Dolinski also pleaded guilty to possessing a plastic strip with doubled sided tape used in the course of a theft on all of the dates concerned.

Solicitor for Dolinski, Coleman Sherry, said that his client was pleading guilty at the first opportunity and said that he has paid compensation of €150 and made a donation of €50 to the church in Gort.

Sherry said that his client was ‘very remorseful’.

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Gordon Deegan

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