A father-of-one caught with a cash box containing €50,000 which was stolen during an ATM delivery has been sentenced to a year in prison.
Gardaí found the cash box with a pickaxe sticking out the top of it in a garden shed at Marigold Crescent, Darndale in Dublin on April 28, 2014.
Paul Clarke (31) was standing beside the shed with two other men, all sweating heavily and out of breath. Clarke had green dye on his clothing, while the cash in the box was also covered in green dye which had exploded as a security device.
Clarke, with an address at Coolock Drive, Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to handling stolen goods.
Co-accused Michael Byrne (25), of Belcamp Crescent, Priorswood, Dublin was previously sentenced to three years in prison for robbery. A third man, Dean Slattery (25), of Briarfield Grove, Kilbarrack was sentenced to four years in prison with the final two years suspended.
Garda Padraig McInerney told Róisin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that a cash-in-transit van was robbed while delivering money to AIB Bank in Raheny.
Members of the public spotted a number of men getting into a Ford Focus with the stolen cash box and heading for Coolock Industrial Estate. On arrival at the estate, the men were seen getting out of the car and unsuccessfully trying to use the car to open the cash box.
The men then climbed over a wall into Marigold Crescent housing estate with the cash box and were pursued and arrested by gardaí.
Slattery told gardaí that Clarke had nothing to do with the robbery and had met the other men afterwards for the purpose of opening the box.
Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, said Clarke claimed he had been in the locality trying to buy heroin and joined in trying to open the cash box. Mr Marrinan said his client was known to gardaí as a heroin addict, like his mother and father before him.
He said Clarke had spent most of the last 15 years in prison but had now started to reflect on his position and wanted to live up to his responsibilities as a father.
He said Clarke was not a “career criminal” and had used any ill-gotten gains to buy heroin.
The court heard Clarke has an extremely supportive family and partner, who has never taken drugs herself. Clarke's daughter wrote a lengthy letter which counsel said indicated a closeness with her father.
Judge Martin Nolan said Clarke, who has 74 previous convictions, has a “dreadful history” of offending.
However he said there was some hope of reform and that Clarke “had his good points”.
Judge Nolan noted that Clarke is currently serving a seven-year-sentence for separate offences and was due for release in early 2020. He sentenced him to one year in prison, to be served consecutively to his current sentence.