Wednesday 22 November 2017

Man was 'out of his head on coke and low on snow blow' on night of robberies, court told

Criminal Courts of Justice
Criminal Courts of Justice

Jessica Magee

A Dublin man who threatened a taxi-driver with a knife hours after robbing a shop on New Year's Eve will be sentenced later for these and other offences.

John Paul Lennon (34) of St Anthony's Park, Rialto, Dublin 8, told gardaí he was “out of his head on coke and snow blow” and didn't remember much of the night.

The father-of-three pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two robberies on the night of December 31, 2013 at the Spar shop in Dolphin's Barn, Dublin 8 and on nearby Basin Street.

Garda Seamus O'Donovan told Noel Devitt BL, that Lennon entered the Spar wearing a balaclava and carrying a large butcher's knife.

He threatened a frightened staff member to open the till for him and left with a quantity of cash, which he later told gardaí was all spent on drugs.

CCTV footage showed that Lennon had been in the shop earlier that day and topping up his phone credit.

He was identified after phone provider Meteor identified the top-up code with Lennon's account.

Lennon was arrested and made full admissions, also admitting to robbing a taxi driver on the same night.

“I'm sorry for frightening people in the shop - and I did a robbery in a taxi – I might as well get it off my chest now,” he told gardaí.

The taxi driver said he picked up Lennon and a co-accused in the early hours of New Year's Day 2014 in Dun Laoghaire and after they gave him confused directions, they told him to turn into Basin Street.

The driver said that when he asked for the fare of €39, Lennon showed him a six-inch knife and shouted at him to give him the money.

The woman on the back seat then held a scissors up to the driver's neck, before telling him to get out of the car.

When arrested Lennon said he was sorry and hadn't meant to rob the man, but he was “in bits” after coming down off coke and taking methadone all day.

Lennon also pleaded guilty to possessing €2,025 of heroin for sale or supply on April 23, 2011.

The court heard that acting on a tip-off, gardaí got a search warrant and called to a house on Derry Drive, Rialto.

Gardaí searched Lennon and found just over 13 grammes of the drug concealed between his buttocks.

On arrest, Lennon said he had seen someone putting the heroin into cable pipes at the back of Dolphin's Barn and had recovered it later himself.

Separately, Lennon pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of the Esso Garage on Usher's Quay on April 16, 2014.

The court heard Lennon threatened staff at the garage along with a co-accused, but that they both fled the scene after difficulties getting money from the electronic till.

All the offences were committed while Lennon was on bail.

Lennon has 26 previous convictions including robbery, false imprisonment and unlawfully taking cars.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said his client had been a “ferocious drug addict” since the age of 19 but had managed to become completely drug-free while in custody and had completed a number of treatment programmes.

Lennon suffers from Hepatitis C and another very serious drug-related illness.

“I'm truly sorry for the hurt I caused. If I wasn't on drugs I wouldn't do these things,” he told gardaí.

Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned sentencing until April 17 and asked for a probation report to be prepared.

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