Saturday 7 December 2019

Heroin addict ran into tree while trying to escape after robbing heavily pregnant woman

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Fiona Ferguson

A heroin addict who ran into a tree while trying to escape after robbing a heavily pregnant woman has been given a five year sentence

Defence counsel for Ian Gibbons (40) said he was “deeply ashamed” at the depth he had fallen to during a relapse into drug addiction following a seven year period clean of heroin.

Gibbons, of Kilmainham Bank, Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of a purse and mobile phone at Blackpitts, Dublin 8 on July 2, 2015.

The court heard he snatched a bag from the woman, causing her to fall over. She didn't suffer any injuries.

Gibbons, who has 25 previous convictions, was chased and restrained by members of the public who witnessed the robbery. The woman was taken to hospital but was not injured.

Judge Melanie Greally praised the “courageous and responsible members of the community” who detained Gibbons at the scene. She said it was an atrocious offence committed on a young expectant mother.

She noted that since the offence Gibbons has again attempted to combat his heroin addiction.

Judge Greally imposed a five year sentence with the final 18 months suspended on conditions.

Garda Geoffrey White told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that the woman, who was 35 and a half weeks pregnant, had been walking from her home to see a friend. She had a bag over her shoulder and was speaking to her husband on the phone.

She said someone grabbed her phone and bag which knocked her off balance and she fell to the ground. The robber ran off and she screamed for help.

Three members of the public saw what happened and chased the man. They lost sight of him for a time but a fourth person spotted him again and the group confronted him.

Gibbons told the men: “I didn't know she was pregnant.” He agreed to show them where the stolen bag was and all items were ultimately recovered.

The group restrained Gibbons until gardaí arrived. During this time he tried unsuccessfully to escape several times, on one occasion running into a tree.

Gibbons told gardaí he needed the money for drugs and denied he had deliberately targeted the woman because she was pregnant.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said Gibbons had worked all his life, training firstly as a chef and later working in positions of trust in the security industry.

He developed a heroin addiction but managed to become drug free for a seven year period during which he became known as someone who would help others in a similar position.

Counsel said Gibbons believed he had put addiction behind him but a number of tragedies, including the death through overdose of a person he had helped, led to him relapsing himself.

He said Gibbons had women in his own life and he was ashamed he had fallen so low as to rob a pregnant woman. Gibbons had now taken “concrete steps” to rehabilitate while in custody and he was now drug free again with the support of his family.

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