Danish tourist charged with stealing from Desertegney poor box

Desertegney church celebrations, 24-8-2014

A Danish tourist will appear at Harristown District Court at Castlerea Prison today after being remanded in custody at Buncrana District Court on Thursday where he faced charges of stealing the poor box at Desertegney Church.

Jens Christensen, 60, from Graasten in Denmark, appeared in Buncrana court yesterday after he was charged with allegedly stealing the metal ‘offerings box’, along with its contents – £60.09 and €379.71 – belonging to Fr. George Doherty from the Star of the Sea Church at Linsfort on Wednesday night, 8 October.

Christensen, was also charged with handling stolen goods, criminal damage to the metal offerings box and possession of articles with intent to be used in connection with a theft. The articles included screwdrivers, a hacksaw, a torch, two pairs of gloves, pliers and a wrench.

Detective Garda Paul Lynch told the court that he arrested the Danish tourist at 7.30am on Thursday morning at Owenkillew, Buncrana, who was a staying in the remote location in a car he had hired from Dublin Airport.

He told the court Christensen had no ties to he area and that he arrived in the country last Monday.

He made an application for Christensen to be remanded in custody because he had no address in Buncrana and he said he could be “at risk” of re-offending as “a large quantity of coins” was found in his car.

He said they found an airline ticket in Mr. Christensen’s possession that showed he had a return flight to Denmark booked for October 27.

Det. Gda Lynch told the court that the 60-year-old was unemployed and suffering from a mental health condition.

“He says he’s not working in Denmark and that he suffers from a mental illness but he is not on any medication,” said Det. Gda Lynch.

Judge Paul Kelly informed the tourist that he would remand him in custody, but Mr. Christensen said he would prefer not to go to jail.

After speaking with gardaí he indicated he would plead guilty to all charges but asked Judge Kelly if it could be dealt with by way of a monetary fine.

Judge Kelly said the charges were very serious, and that pleading guilty now would not be in Mr. Christensen’s best interest and suggested that he consult with a solicitor in Harristown Court (which is connected to Castlerea Prison).

“I think the safest thing would be for the court tomorrow to decide what to do with you,” he said to Christensen. “These are very serious charges and you could find yourself going to jail for a long time over it. It might be better for you to seek legal advice.”

Prison officers handcuffed Christensen and led him to the prison van for transfer to the Roscommon prison.