A heroin addict who as a child discovered the body of his murdered mother has been sentenced to four years for robbing a taxi driver at knifepoint.
Alan Royal (24), who was injecting the then legal high snow blow at the time, got into the taxi with another drug addict on Bridgefoot Street in the city centre.
The men asked to be taken to Watling Street but en route Royal, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, lifted the handbrake bringing the vehicle to a sudden stop.
His co-accused then held a knife to the taxi driver’s neck and the robbers demanded cash and the car keys.
Garda Nathan McKenna told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that the taxi driver was terrified and handed over €75 he had in his shirt pocket while the two men grabbed change from the centre console in the car.
Royal of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery on June 6, 2010.
Michael Hourigan BL, defending, told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that his client was the first person to discover his dead mother when he was just 10 and was left severely traumatised as a result. He started using drugs shortly afterwards which led to his offending behaviour.
Counsel said Royal had been treated for cancer after a tumour was discovered in his bladder two years ago.
Mr Hourigan said Royal had a “very, very severe” heroin addiction at the time and had been injecting snow blow. He was later hospitalised for an infection to his leg as a result of injecting the legal high into it.
Counsel told Gda McKenna that he, (Gda McKenna), had helped Royal out on a number of occasions when he met him on the street and said that his client is grateful for that help.
Royal’s 104 previous convictions, which have all been dealt with in the District Court, include theft, public order, obstruction of a police officer, criminal damage, possession of knives and road traffic offences.
Judge Ring said Royal’s background was “very tragic” and noted he was “abandoned from a very young age, which resulted in a chaotic life”.
She accepted he is doing well in custody, is dealing with his drug addiction and is “finally getting some structure to his life”.
Judge Ring noted that Royal’s is in a new stable relationship.
She said a probation report showed that he has insight into the effect of his crime on his victim and that he described the robbery to probation officers as “a new low for me”.
Judge Ring said that taxi drivers “always take a chance when they take a fare” and what happened on the night was “unacceptable”.
She said Royal should “not let his history define his future” but accepted that since his remand he is equipping himself with “important tools to shape his new life”.
Judge Ring sentenced Royal to four years in prison but suspended the final 18 months of the term on strict conditions. She wished him “good luck” after he entered into his bond.