An armed robber who said he led gardaí on a chase from Dublin to Westmeath because “he had nothing left to lose” has received a five year sentence with four suspended.
Eugene Byrne (21) of Lohunda Down, Clonsilla, Dublin had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Clonsilla Post Office on December 16, 2013.
Byrne and his accomplice Ian Mansfield (24) fled the scene on a single motorbike and were chased as far as Mulligar, Co Westmeath.
Mansfield of Fortlawn Drive, Blanchardstown, Dublin was earlier spared jail with a suspended five year sentence.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Byrne was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago last year for trying to export cocaine. He was sentenced to two years hard labour, or a fine equivalent to about €4,000 which was paid after he spent six months in jail. He returned to Ireland in January.
Detective Seargent Paul Tallon said that witnesses described how Byrne was armed with a gun when he entered the post office. His accomplice had a hammer. Both men were wearing motorcycle helmets.
The post mistress’ mother saw the men and hit the panic button. The raid lasted about one minute before the men left and got on a motorcycle.
Det Sgt Tallon told James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, that he was on duty in an unmarked patrol car and responded to a alert about the raid. He pursued the raiders and the Air Support Unit were called in.
The lengthy pursuit down the N4 dual carriageway ended in Mullingar, Co Westmeath at a second roadblock set up by gardaí. The men had managed to evade capture at an earlier roadblock.
Det Sgt Tallon said that the post mistress’s mother has suffered nightmares ever since. She is now on edge all the time and finds herself being cautious with every customer.
After he was arrested, Byrne told Det Sgt Tallon that he panicked when gardaí began chasing him and decided to flee because he had “nothing left to lose”.
Luigi Rea BL, defending, told Judge Martin Nolan that Byrne was “out of kilter” at the time of the offence due to the death of his father a short time before. In addition to the conviction in Trinidad and Tobago, Byrne has one previous conviction in Ireland, for dangerous driving.
Judge Nolan noted that Byrne had a more serious involvement in the attempted post office raid that his co-accucsed, as he had carried the immitation firearm and had driven the motor bike.
The judge gave Byrne credit for the six months he had spent in the foreign jail when passing sentence.