Sunday 23 July 2017

Serial offender with 160 convictions who posed as garda and handcuffed victim before robbing him walks free

Gary Kearney (25) after he was given a suspended sentence for robbery, false imprisonment and theft in Dublin city centre in September, 2016.
Pic: Courtpix
Gary Kearney (25) after he was given a suspended sentence for robbery, false imprisonment and theft in Dublin city centre in September, 2016. Pic: Courtpix

Fiona Ferguson

A SERIAL offender with 160 previous convictions who claimed to be an undercover garda before taking part in handcuffing and robbing a man has avoided a custodial sentence.

Gary Kearney (25) and an accomplice quoted sections of law before “searching” the man and removing his belongings on Millennium Bridge, Dublin in the early hours of the morning. The robbers were aggressive and the victim feared he would be pushed into the Liffey while handcuffed.

Kearney's previous convictions include assault, animal cruelty, robbery, theft, burglary, criminal damage and public order offences.

Kearney of Poddle Close, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery, false imprisonment and theft in Dublin city centre on September 11, 2016.

Judge Melanie Greally had originally heard evidence in the case last March. She said Kearney had an “appalling record of offending” and that if the cycle was to be broken he would have to address his addiction issues.

She had adjourned sentencing to allow Kearney attend for residential treatment at Cuan Mhuire.

Yesterday Judge Greally noted Kearney had successfully addressed his drug and alcohol addictions since his admission to Cuan Mhuire. She said he had made a huge effort to address the issues which had dogged him in the past and caused him to offend.

She imposed a four year sentence which she suspended on strict conditions including attendance at AA meetings. She ordered two years probation supervision.

Garda Brian McLoughlin told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that at around 1.30am Kearney and his accomplice approached a man crossing the Millennium Bridge.

One of the men had a radio and the second had handcuffs. They told the victim he was under arrest.

This was witnessed by another man who the pair had just previously approached claiming to be undercover plain clothes gardaí and quoting a section of law. This first man had become suspicious that they were not gardaí and backed away from them.

Kearney and his accomplice quoted law again to the second man. They put handcuffs on him and told him he was being taken to Pearse Street Garda Station.

They held the man up against the bridge and the victim feared he would be pushed into the Liffey while wearing the handcuffs. They searched him and took his phone, travel and bank cards.

Gda McLoughlin said due to the aggression of the men the victim began to suspect they were not gardai and asked for his belongings back. They returned his travel and bank cards and removed the handcuffs.

They said he would get his phone back at the garda station but when he continued to ask for it the men began to handcuff him again. The man defended himself and was assisted by the witness. A woman filmed part of the incident on her mobile phone.

Gda McLoughlin said he and a colleague arrived at this point and arrested Kearney. His accomplice fled the scene and has not been charged.

Gda McLoughlin said the handcuffs were “quite realistic” and the victim believed they were real. He agreed with defence counsel, Luigi Rea BL that they were not of the same standard as garda handcuffs.

Mr Rea said Kearney had written a letter of apology to the victim in which he said he was ashamed of his actions and realised it was entirely inappropriate.

At the original sentence hearing Mr Rea had told Judge Greally that drink and tablets had been a feature of Kearney's life and there was a place available for him in a 12 week residential treatment program.

Gda McLoughlin yesterday told the court that the injured party had “graciously accepted” Kearney's apology, was happy that Kearney was on a treatment course and had no desire to see him in custody.

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