Friday 2 December 2016

Man who robbed two children of their mobile phones at knife point is jailed

Fiona Ferguson

Published 04/03/2016 | 15:16

mobile phone Photo: PA
mobile phone Photo: PA

A man who robbed two young boys of their mobile phones at knife point has been jailed for two years.

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Derek McCann (35), of Walkinstown Park, Walkinstown, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing the children's phones at a location in Dublin city on September 29, 2014. He has 31 previous convictions for offences including robbery, burglary, assault and possession of a firearm.

Garda Jaime Cullen praised the maturity of the 14-year-old boy who kept his younger brother calm as they were robbed by McCann on the way to sports practice.

The children handed over their phones and €6 each but McCann showed “a modicum of decency” and returned the money before telling them: “Not a word about this to anyone.”

The court heard McCann was ashamed of himself for the “cowardly” robbery and had written a letter of apology.

Gda Cullen told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that he had kept in touch with the boys since the incident and although both had been in fear, especially when they saw the knife, they had relaxed over time. The boys cannot not be identified as they are minors.

In his victim impact report the 12-year-old boy said he feared if his older brother had not been there to calm him down the incident could have been more serious.

Defence counsel Vincent Heneghan BL, said McCann, who had drug and alcohol misuse issues, was ashamed of himself and wished to apologise for the “cowardly” incident. He handed in letters of apology penned by McCann to the court and victims.

Judge Patricia Ryan imposed a four year sentence but suspended the final two years on strict conditions

McCann had been released on the suspended portion of a previous sentence when he committed this robbery. He is currently serving the reactivated two year sentence and will begin his new term when that sentence ends in April.

Gda Cullen told Mr Kennedy that the children were on their way to sports practice when the older brother noticed McCann following them.

The older boy took his phone out to text his mother to say they had safely arrived when McCann stood in front of them blocking their path. He attempted to grab the boy's phone and the younger boy tried to stop him.

The older boy told his brother to allow the man take his phone and to hand over his own as well.

He noticed McCann had a knife in his right hand as he asked them for money. Both boys handed over €6 each they had for sports practice. McCann heard the jingling of keys from the older boy's pocket and the child took them out to show him.

McCann asked the child where he lived and the boy made up an address. McCann dropped the keys and demanded more money. The younger boy began to cry.

A passer-by came close at that point and McCann put his arm around the older boy's shoulder. This alarmed the child as he could no longer see the knife but he urged his younger brother to stay calm.

McCann decided to give the boys back their money and told them to go home. He threw the older boy's glasses on the ground and told them: “Not a word about this to anyone.”

McCann was later arrested and the phones recovered.

In their victim impact reports the boys said they had been scared during the incident and feared it might happen again.

Gda Cullen agreed with Mr Heneghan that the offence had been “particularly cowardly” and that a lot of respect was due to the older boy who showed a great deal of maturity.

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