Man jailed for robbery spree in town
A DROGHEDA man has been given a three-year jail term after he attempted to rob cash from four businesses in the town, Dundalk Circuit Court heard last week.
Barry O'Brien (30), with an address at 34 Boyne Court, Drogheda, committed the series of offences all within the space of a few hours on May 21, 2013.
The court heard that a receptionist at the Westcourt Hotel was on duty around 10.40am when she noticed two men came into the lobby.
One of the men went towards a function room, and a short time later he appeared out of a side room carrying a till.
The court was told that despite his attempts, the property of the hotel and cash were recovered.
The second incident took place at Tully's bookmakers, where a shop worker described how she was on duty at the front desk when a man approached the counter.
He produced a knife and demanded she hand over money. She said it appeared to be like a kitchen knife.
She described feeling shocked and frightened, and was 'afraid for her safety'. The man had a plastic bag with him, and she proceeded to put €200 in notes into the bag, and the perpetrator fled the scene.
The court heard that another customer, who had been at the back of the shop, followed the accused out on to the street. He watched him cross the road, before the accused flung the bag away and went to get a taxi.
The next incident saw the accused go into Boylesports bookmakers. A manager on duty gave evidence to gardai that she saw a man come into the shop and go up to the side of the counter.
She saw him put a knife down on the counter. The manager said she had recognised him as a customer. He left the scene without obtaining any cash.
The final incident saw the accused go into a shop known as Stafford's Fine Foods.
A shop assistant gave evidence to gardai that a man had come in and asked for change, and when she opened the till he leaned over and tried to pull the till drawer open.
She said he managed to get 'a load of notes' and left the shop. However, he was pursued by two other men who apprehended him on the street until gardai arrived.
One of the arresting gardai recognised the accused, as he was known to gardai in Drogheda as a long-term drug user.
The court was told he had a long-term partner and had one child who had special needs.
His only history of employment was through community employment schemes.
He has 59 previous convictions.
Judge Leonie Reynolds said O'Brien had taken part in a 'spree' of offending and she had no doubt the robberies were traumatic experiences for those who were confronted by him.
But she noted he was under 'severe pressure to discharge a debt', although he had offended very shortly after being released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for robbery.
She said O'Brien has 'a long road to travel to coming to terms with his addiction' but gave him credit for his guilty plea and his genuine expression of remorse.
Judge Reynolds imposed a six-year sentence, with the final three years suspended for three years on condition that he continues to engage with the probation service for three years after his release.