Thief 'fell through welfare cracks'
A MIDDLE-AGED man who "fell through the cracks" in the social welfare system has been given a two-year suspended sentence for a "spur of the moment" robbery on a sandwich shop.
Alan Wilson (58) had lived and worked in Canada for 41 years but returned to Ireland after his marriage broke down -- only to find that he couldn't claim social welfare because he had no home address or credits.
He lived rough for 18 months in Dublin and had developed a drink problem when he robbed €585 in cash at knife-point from a Subway shop on Wexford Street.
Wilson, of Beech Hill Drive in Donnybrook, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing the shop on January 21, 2008.
Garda Lorna Cox said Wilson walked up to the till at Subway with a kitchen knife and ordered the male staff member to put cash into a bag.
She told Mr John Quirke BL, prosecuting, that Wilson said he hadn't expected to get any money from the robbery, which he described as "a spur of the moment thing". No money or weapon was ever recovered.
She agreed with Mr Michael Bowman BL, defending, that Wilson developed a drink problem when he was homeless.
Wilson's ex-wife had become depressed in Canada and told him she didn't feel up to coming back shortly after leaving with their child on the pretence of visiting her family in England.
Mr Bowman said Wilson left his managerial job as a warehouse operative in Canada and followed his wife and child to the UK, but ended up back in Dublin where he "fell through the cracks" in the social welfare system.
Mr Bowman told the court his client now lived in a hostel for homeless people.