A father-of-three who claimed he robbed his local supermarket with a butcher knife so he could buy his children a swing set has been jailed for two years.
Derek McCann (31) was sentenced to four years with two suspended for a series of drug fuelled robberies and thefts during a three month crime spree last year.
He was caught when his girlfriend returned to the same Lidl supermarket just 24 hours after the couple had been spotted fleeing with a butcher knife and more than €600 in cash.
McCann of Walkinstown Park, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the robbery of Lidl on Walkinstown Avenue on July 28, 2012.
He also pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of the Spar at Walkinstown Roundabout on September 19, 2012, and theft from an apartment on Kevin Street on July 3, 2012.
Garda Aidan Devenney told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that McCann had demanded money from a woman working on the tills at the supermarket while brandishing a large butcher knife.
He was wearing a scarf over his face and shouted: “Money, money. Quickly, quickly. Open the till, I want money.”
He took €630 and escaped with his girlfriend who had been waiting outside.
A member of staff recognised the couple as regular customers, and when the girlfriend returned to the supermarket the next day, the employee called gardai.
During garda interview McCann said that his former girlfriend was putting pressure on him to get money together to buy swings for one of their children.
When asked if he had bought the swings with the money, he admitted that he hadn't.
The court heard that three weeks earlier McCann had terrified a young boy when he broke into an apartment on Kevin Street in a drunken stupor.
The 15-year-old boy locked himself in his bedroom and called the gardai to report there was an intruder in his house.
When gardai arrived, they found McCann slumped against a wall in the sitting room, drinking from a bottle of wine that he had taken from the fridge.
He became aggressive and attacked gardai before being arrested.
During garda interview, he apologised and described the incident as “the most ridiculous thing I've ever done in my life.”
Less than two months later, on September 19, McCann attempted to rob the Spar at Walkinstown roundabout with a knife but was unable to open the till. Later that night he robbed the contents of a woman’s car, including a folder full of work documents.
Vincent Heneghan BL, defending, said his client was “particularly hopeless” in his attempted robberies, saying: “It’s rather shameful that he robbed a shop he used every day.”
“It’s not the crime of a smart person,” he added.
Mr Hengehan pleaded with Judge Patrick McCartan to consider a non-custodial sentence and said his client needed the help and support of the Probation Services to tackle his drug problems.
Judge McCartan initially agreed to adjourn the sentencing pending a probation report, but when he realised that McCann is awaiting trial on another charge he dismissed the possibility of a non-custodial sentence.
McCann’s step-father stood up in court and described his step-son as someone who is “kind” and “loves animals.”
The judge pointed out that there is nothing kind about terrifying people with a knife, and recommended that the man let the lawyers do the talking.
McCann has 27 previous convictions and is a heroin addict who is currently taking methadone.
Judge McCartan commented that McCann will pose a “major threat” to the community until he tackles his drug problem.
He imposed a 12 month term for the burglary, and a three year consecutive sentence for the armed robbery.
The judge also sentenced him to two years for the attempted robbery, and ordered that it run concurrent to the three year sentence.
He then suspended the final two years, meaning McCann will serve two years in prison.