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Sunday 23 October 2016

'One of them had me in a headlock and was choking me' - Tourist recalls 'traumatic' mugging at knifepoint on first visit to Ireland

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 10/05/2016 | 14:49

The two robbers were armed with knives (stock photo)
The two robbers were armed with knives (stock photo)

An American tourist on his first visit to Ireland has spoken of the "traumatising" moment when he was mugged at knifepoint by two men in Dublin’s city centre.

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Donnie travelled to Ireland from Chicago, and was staying in a hostel on Bachelor’s Walk on Sunday night when the incident occurred.

After grabbing a late dinner around the corner at Burger King on O’Connell Street, Donnie headed back at 11.30pm.

“I have an awful sense of direction, I get lost in my own apartment, so I stopped and asked this girl where the hostel was and if she could direct me there,” he told RTE Radio One’s Liveline.

“She said it was just right up the street, why don’t you follow me? She was well-dressed, she didn’t look like a street person or the type of person who would do something like this.

“She said, ‘we just make a right here.’ Two other guys had been walking with her, and as they took me to the corner, it all happened so fast.

“They said give me all your money, and the guy behind me, I could see out of the corner of my eye, had a knife. I was frozen in terror, I didn’t know what to do, I was gonna get knifed.”

Donnie said he reached into his pocket and handed over his wallet, which contained just €20 in cash.

“That made them very angry. They said, ‘you’ve got more than that’ and they started punching me in the face, and one of them had me in a headlock and was choking me.”

The thieves took his iPhone and immediately took off running. He described the whole incident as taking place within a matter of seconds, but that it left him feeling “traumatised”.

Standing in the alleyway just off Bachelor’s Walk, Donnie shouted for someone to call the police, but people told him “I can’t” or “I’m busy”, so he had to run into a supermarket, where a sales assistant contacted the Gardaí.

“That was kind of frightening, that people on the boardwalk didn’t want to get involved. I was very surprised.

“They broke one of my teeth in the back, and my lip was bleeding. The back of my head I got a big goose egg. The police took me back to my hostel and I started vomiting, so the next day they recommended that I go to the hospital. I have a concussion but no other serious injuries.”

Donnie had been staying at the hostel for a couple of days, and said he felt “completely safe” in the area. He described himself as a “perfect target” for thieves preying on disoriented tourists.

“When I described what the girl looked like, the Garda mentioned her by name. I guess this is her game, this is what she does.

“She seemed nice as pie, that’s what really caught me off guard. It taught me that you can’t judge a book by its cover,” Donnie added.

He explained that he planned to continue his travels in Cork, where his mother was born.

However, left without his credit cards and passport, Donnie said he may have to head home to Chicago within the next couple of days.

Calls flooded in from people all over the country offering accommodation and tours of his mother’s native Cork, the Cliffs of Moher and even a trip to Liverpool.

Donnie said he was “overwhelmed” by the generosity of Irish people, and that he was delighted he wouldn’t have to cut his trip short.

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