Tuesday 19 September 2017

McDonald's robber 'jumped into river under delusion water would help him evade garda helicopter'

McDonalds restaurant in Rathmines, Dublin (Photo: Google Maps)
McDonalds restaurant in Rathmines, Dublin (Photo: Google Maps)

Isabel Hayes

A man who robbed a McDonald's restaurant and held a knife to a woman's stomach in front of customers and children will be sentenced next week.

James Barry (33) fled the Rathmines restaurant with €330 in cash and jumped into the Dodder river to evade gardaí, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

He was operating under the delusion the water would ensure his body temperature wouldn't be picked up by any pursuing garda helicopter, Garda Brian McLoughlin told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting.

Barry of Goatstown Close, Goatstown, Dublin pleaded guilty to robbing McDonald's restaurant on Lower Rathmines Rd on February 2 this year.

He also pleaded guilty to robbing €460 cash from a chemist in Camden St on March 5, 2015. Evidence on that matter has been heard previously, the court heard.

Gda McLoughlin said the victim was working in McDonald's on the afternoon of the day in question when Barry walked behind the counter, pressed a 10cm knife to her ribcage and stomach area and ordered her to open the till.

A number of customers, including children, were present at the time, the court heard.

The woman initially protested that she couldn't open the till before she complied with his demands. Barry then fled the scene and jumped into a taxi. However, when he taxi-driver was phoned by gardaí who were pursuing him, Barry asked the taxi-driver to stop and ran into nearby parkland.

When gardaí caught up with him, he was submerged in the Dodder river. He later told gardaí that he thought getting into the water would prevent any garda helicopter from picking up his body temperature. There was no air pursuit taking place at the time.

When interviewed, Barry was contrite and told gardaí: “I'm a horrible bastard when I want to be”. He said he used to bring his kids to McDonald's and that he believed he carried out the offence as a “cry for help”.

Barry said he had been planning the robbery for weeks and used a knife that he normally used to cut tomatoes.

The court heard his victim was left “traumatised” after the incident, but did not give a victim impact statement

Barry has five previous convictions, including attempted robbery and possession of articles.

Defence barrister Katherine McGillicuddy BL, said her client had long-standing drug addiction problems. She said he had a troubled childhood and was physically abused as a child.

He moved constantly when he was young and his education lacked continuity as a result, the court heard.

Barry previously worked as a chef and a painter and has a number of children. He is the primary carer of his youngest child, a five-year-old boy, who lost the sight in one eye due to a tumour, Ms McGillicuddy said.

“He is very deeply remorseful and deeply sorry for the trauma he put (the woman) through that day,” she said.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case for sentencing on July 5.

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