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Monday 22 September 2014

'Honey trap' gang teen who robbed victims avoids jail

Brian McDonald

Published 30/07/2014 | 02:30

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Jonathan Fitzpatrick. Photo: David Walsh
Jonathan Fitzpatrick. Photo: David Walsh

A member of a "honey trap" gang who robbed two men after luring them to a remote location, has narrowly escaped a lengthy term in prison.

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Jonathan Fitzpatrick was part of the gang of four who used a dating website to get the men to travel to a location in Co Roscommon before putting them in fear of their lives.

Fitzpatrick (19), from Strokestown, admitted charges of detaining both men without their consent, threatening to kill or cause serious injury to one of the men and allowing himself to be carried in a stolen car.

The offences took place on June 18 and 25 last year.

A previous sitting of Roscommon Circuit Court heard that two men from Dublin had separately been lured West after a 17-year-old schoolgirl posted her profile on a website seeking liaisons with men.

One of the men, who is from Dublin, got in touch with the girl, who used the name "Emma" on the website, and after several messages were exchanged she invited him to meet her on June 18 last year in Strokestown.

Using the profile name "Amber", she told another man from Dublin a week later who had got in touch that she was "up for anything". The schoolgirl posted two profile photographs.

Fitzpatrick, the girl and two others all pleaded guilty to false imprisonment as well as a variety of theft charges. They had exploited gullible men, the court heard.

Sexual

The men had been expecting some kind of sexual encounter, but instead were subjected to assault, false imprisonment and robbery.

In court yesterday Judge Tony Hunt was told that Fitzpatrick – the final member of the four gang members to be sentenced – had spent 10 weeks in prison earlier this year while awaiting sentence.

"I wanted him to have a look at custody and see what's waiting for him if there's a repetition," the judge said.

A Probation Service report on the accused man was positive, the court heard and he had an unblemished record up to the time of this conviction.

"This is very serious offending for someone with no previous convictions", Judge Hunt said.

Noting the time spent in prison, he imposed sentences totalling four years, but suspended the balance of the term for two and a half years on Fitzpatrick entering into a bond to comply with the directions of the Probation Service.

Irish Independent

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