Thursday 8 December 2016

No passengers intervened as drug addict couple attacked and robbed woman on Luas, court hears

By Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 10/07/2015 | 15:50

Luas arriving at St. Stephen's Green stop
Luas arriving at St. Stephen's Green stop

A drug addict couple attacked and robbed a woman on the Luas in front of passengers who failed to intervene, a court has heard.

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David Larkin (37) punched the woman multiple times and his partner, Suzanne McGowan (42), spat at her before they escaped the Luas with her handbag.

The Dublin pair had been verbally abusing the woman for a few stops and other passengers had failed to assist her when they made off with her bag, Garda Conor Fleming told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Larkin of Delaford Grove, Knocklyon, and McGowan of Knockmore Crescent, Tallaght, both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing Izabela Portyka of her purse and contents on August 14, 2012.

Larkin has 30 previous convictions, including thefts and drug offences, and McGowan has 24 previous convictions, including assault and public order offences.

Judge Patricia Ryan remanded McGowan on bail pending a probation and welfare services report, accepting that the offence was “out of character” for the mother-of-two.

The judge imposed a four-year sentence with the final two years suspended on Larkin for his role.

Gda Fleming said Ms Portyka had boarded the Luas at the Tallaght stop about 3.15pm and was obstructed by the couple on her way to her usual seat behind the driver.

He told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that Larkin and McGowan became abusive, calling the victim a “slut”.

Larkin followed Ms Portyka and continued verbally abusing her as she knocked on the glass partition to get the driver's attention. The driver spoke to Larkin at one stop, but then returned to his cab.

The victim knocked again on the partition window after Larkin had attempted to grab her bag when the tram was in motion. She could hear the driver calling for security and garda assistance.

After a second attempt Larkin took Ms Portyka's bag, punched her several times and pushed her head into a steel column. Ms Portyka followed the couple from the front carriage down the Luas, asking other passengers to help her.

Nobody assisted and Larkin threw a water bottle at her, before exiting the tram with her bag. The victim met with gardai at a subsequent stop and her bag was later retrieved by a bystander who followed the culprits.

Gda Fleming told the court that Ms Portyka received treatment in hospital for neck and head injuries and revealed she now suffers from migraines and psychological issues.

The garda agreed with Marc Thompson BL, defending Larkin, that the victim was spared having to give evidence at trial due to his client's guilty plea. He accepted Larkin is a drug addict and alcoholic.

Gda Fleming agreed with Nicola Cox BL, defending McGowan, that the mother-of-two is known for “wandering aimlessly through Tallaght” and was highly intoxicated on the day.

He further agreed that an ex-partner had gotten her addicted to drugs when she was 21 years old.

Mr Thompson told Judge Ryan that his client had written a letter of apology for his actions and that the offence was not premeditated.

Ms Cox said that McGowan had a lesser role in the offence and asked the judge to take into consideration her client's ill health, homeless history and difficult family background.

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