Friday 22 September 2017

Man who robbed three taxi drivers in one week and attacked one of them has been jailed for five years

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

By Jessica Magee

A Dubliner who robbed three taxi-drivers within the space of a week and attacked one of them has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Michael Whelan (33) punched one of his victims in the face breaking the man's two front teeth, a court has heard.

Whelan, of Liffey Avenue, Liffey Valley Park, Lucan, admitted carrying out the robberies on July 2 and 7 at Croftwood Gardens Ballyfermot.

He also pleaded guilty to a robbery on July 4 on Blackditch Road, Ballyfermot.

Judge Nolan suspended the final 18 months of the sentence and ordered Whelan to engage with probation for 18 months on release. He also ordered that Whelan get credit for time already spent in custody.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said Whelan's modus operandi was to hire a taxi, lure them to a place where he felt comfortable and then rob them.

“He's a menace to society,” said the judge, noting that Whelan had produced syringes and a knife during the course of the robberies.

Judge Nolan said taxi drivers were “very vulnerable” as they are on the own when serving the public. He said it must have been very uncomfortable for the victims to go out every night alone to drive their taxis for a number of years afterwards.

Garda Mark Harrington told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that a taxi-driver picked up Whelan and a woman in Temple Bar on July 2, 2013.

They asked to go to Ballyfermot and when the taxi reached Croftwood Gardens, Whelan threatened the driver with a syringe and said he was HIV positive.

“If you make any struggle, I'll stick it in your neck,” he said, then stole three phones from the driver and €80 in cash.

The second incident took place on July 4, when a taxi-driver picked up Whelan near Ha'penny Bridge and brought him to Ballyfermot.

Whelan pulled out a knife and threatened to stab the taxi-driver and then punched the man's face and mouth, breaking his two front teeth which later had to be replaced. Whelan stole a number of CDs from the taxi.

On July 7, 2013, another taxi-driver picked up Whelan and a woman on the quays and again drove them to Ballyfermot on request before he was threatened with a syringe and robbed of his SatNav, two phones and €175 in cash.

Whelan was arrested and apologised to his victims, telling gardaí, “I deserve exactly what I get.”

He has 29 previous convictions including a number of robberies.

Marc Thompson Grolimund BL, defending, said Whelan had mental health issues and had spent much of his childhood in State care, adding that his client had had “no luck whatsoever” in his life.

He said Whelan had acquired a brain injury at the age of 14 when he was horse-riding and was knocked down by a car.

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