A man tried to use a large golf umbrella as a weapon in an attempt to rob a bookies after a mugger took his dole money, a court has heard.
Niall Flynn, (31) of the Granby Centre in Dublin, was given a suspended sentence of 18 months. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of attempted robbery and one count of robbery.
He has 23 previous convictions including criminal damage, theft and burglary.
On August 30, 2014, Flynn entered Boylesports on Mary Street in Dublin brandishing an umbrella like a “javelin”, a garda said.
He was in the shop for just 60 seconds before leaving with nothing. About 15 minutes later he entered a Ladbrokes bookies with an iron bar.
On the same day, he also robbed €40 from a premises across from Kevin Street Garda station in broad daylight by concealing his hand in his pocket and threatening a worker by saying: “I’ll kill you”. He made no attempt to hide his identity.
Garda Eoin Colbert, who has arrested Flynn in the past, told the court that although the staff member in Ladbrokes “thought he was somewhat of a joke”, two female staff in Boylesports set off the shop’s panic alarm.
Describing the attempted robbery at Boylesports, he said: “(Flynn) approached the counter. Using an umbrella, a large golf umbrella, he lunged across the counter.
“Security wiring over the counter didn’t allow him through any further to get nearer to staff.
“He pointed in a javelin style motion across the counter and demanded money. The two female members of staff immediately ducked and pressed the panic alarm.
“He attempted to reach across the counter when he saw cash.”
Flynn was arrested at his hostel and admitted to certain charges. He later denied them at Kevin Street Garda Station, only to readmit to the crimes when he saw how high quality the CCTV footage was.
Defence counsel, Austin O’Briain BL, said that Flynn suffered from mental health issues and had been homeless since 2009.
“On August 2014, he had collected his social welfare payment that morning. He was assaulted and money was taken from him,” Mr O’Briain said.
“While it’s no excuse to do what he did, it was the prompting factor to take this foolhardy course to try and get some money into his pocket.
“Psychiatric illness is widespread in his family. It has led to circumstances where his whole family, including his parents, are homeless, bar two of his sisters.
“He has been homeless since 2009. These are serious matters, because of his illness, they are largely outside areas of control which a normal person could exercise.
“He’s a very big man. In terms of going into these bookie shops, he’s easily identified. He’s known to the guards. There was no attempt to conceal his identity.”
Handing down sentence, Judge Pauline Codd said it was “no doubt a frightening incident” and took into account Flynn’s history of psychiatric illness, his large number of hospital admissions and the fact that he didn’t cover his face which showed he was “vulnerable”.
She ordered that Flynn keep the peace for the next two years, remain under the supervision of the probation services and abstain from alcohol and drugs for two years.