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  • Northside West

Today in court

Wednesday, 18th March, 2020 3:18pm
Today in court
Today in court

By Sonya McLean

A man who riffled through the pockets of a man who had  overdosed in a Dublin laneway has been been jailed for two years.

Andrew Stammers died in the laneway at some point that night but it was not possible to establish if he was dead when John Murdiff (33) and his accomplice stole from him.

Murdiff and the other man passed by Mr Stammers again, less than two hours after they had stolen from him and checked on him as they were concerned he had not moved. Once they discovered Mr Stammers was not breathing they ran to a nearby hotel for help.

Murdiff gave a statement to gardaí a month later for the coroner's report and was then told that gardaí had since viewed CCTV footage from the lane that night and had spotted that he had pick-pocketed the man.

Murdiff of Kippure Park, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of Andrew Stammers at Adare Lane on October 19, 2017. He has 50 previous convictions for offences including theft, public order and assault causing harm.

Garda Cian Flemming agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that Murdiff has written a letter of remorse which has been passed onto the victim's family.

“It is a great source of guilt to him that had he been more attentive he may have been able to help this man,” Mr Spencer said.
 
Gda Flemming agreed with Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that Mr Stammers had been a recovered drug addict for many years who was a dedicated family man and “had left that life (of addiction) behind him”.
 
However, as Mr Coffey said, “for some inexplicable reason” Mr Stammers went into Dublin city that day and took heroin. He met with another man in Adare Lane that day and when Mr Stammers was unable to find a vein, this other person injected him with heroin.

Counsel said unbeknown to this other man, Mr Stammers died of an overdose at some point that night. He said it was difficult to establish his exact time of death as Mr Stammers remained in the same position in the lane throughout the CCTV footage.

“He appeared to passers-by that he was asleep,” Mr Coffey said.
 
Murdiff and another man can then be seen on CCTV footage approaching Mr Stammers at 12.40am and searching his pockets before taking some unknown items, possibly cigarettes and a small amount of cash, from him.
 
Murdiff and the other man then return to the lane at 2.20am, Gda Flemming said, and at this point they realised Mr Stammers was dead and looked for help. They met a lady who had first aid training and helped her in attending to the victim.
 
Judge Melanie Greally described it as a “deeply distressing and tragic case” and acknowledged that Mr Stammers' partner and sister were in court.
 
She said “very valuable time was lost between the theft and Murdiff's return to the lane, at which point he did the right thing, but unfortunately that at this stage his assistance was too late”.
 
Judge Greally said the case was particularly tragic given that Mr Stammers had successfully battled his addiction and that his family know that “not only was he not assisted in his final hours, he had been taken advantage of”.
 
She said most right thinking people would view the case “with viable disgust and distress”.
 
The judge acknowledged a victim impact statement from Mr Stammers' partner which she said “sets out her considerable distress in this awful set of circumstances”.
 
She said she took into account the fact that Murdiff “ultimately raised the alarm” and tried to get help for Mr Stammers and accepted his “remorse, regret and shame”.
 
Judge Greally said she was also taking into account the fact that Murdiff is someone who battles with addiction himself and is making efforts to deal with his addiction in prison.
 
She sentenced Murdiff to two years in prison, consecutive to a three year term he is currently serving for assault causing harm, a sentence that was imposed in October 2019.

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