Sunday 17 December 2017

Man who pointed 'realistic looking' fake gun at gardai after attempted robbery will not face higher sentence - court

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Ruaidhri Giblin

A man who pointed a "realistic looking" imitation handgun at two gardaí following an attempted robbery will not face a higher sentence despite an appeal by prosecutors.

Mark O'Reilly (37) with an address at Dunmore Avenue, Killenarden, Tallaght had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence at a Fortunestown service station, Tallaght, Dubln 24 on March 11 2012.

He was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Desmond Hogan on April 7 2014.

The Director of Public Prosecutions failed to appeal O'Reilly's sentence in the Court of Appeal today/yesterday(MONDAY) on the ground that it was too lenient.

Giving background to the case, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said O'Reilly had pointed a “realistic imitation firearm which looked like a handgun to the head of another person and demanded money”.

The attendant, Mr Rizman Ali, was quick thinking and realised that a so called customer was in truth a participant in this attempted robbery, he said.

The so called customer had feigned to purchase cigarettes from Mr Ali. O'Reilly came up from behind and pointed the imitation firearm to his head.

Mr Ali silently pressed the emergency button and counted the money, which had been demanded, slowly while facing increased threats from O'Reilly.

The gardaí arrived quickly and no money was paid over, Mr Justice Hogan said.

When the gardaí arrived they produced firearms and announced that they were armed gardaí. It was clear, Mr Justice Hogan said, that O'Reilly did not put down the imitation firearm and it was not in dispute that he pointed the firearm at the two gardaí.

O'Reilly ultimately ran and was hauled to the ground by the gardáí and arrested.

He made no admissions while in detention but did say 'the other lad was innocent: I stuck a gun to his head'.

The so called customer was also charged with certain offences, pleaded guilty and was given a suspended sentence, he said.

It was only right, Mr Justice Hogan said, that the court pay tribute to the conspicuous bravery of Mr Ali and the individual gardaí who “fearlessly responded” to "a potentially very dangerous situation".

Mr Justice Hogan said O'Reilly was an early school leaver with 27 previous convictions for robbery and seven for burglary.

He was chronically addicted to drugs, the judge said, to heroin amongst others. One of the key terms of his suspended sentence was that he should participate in a drug and alcohol treatment programme.

He had been released in April 2014 but the suspended part of his sentence was reactivated following an application by the Probation Service a few days earlier on grounds that he had not fulfilled the condition attached to his sentence.

He is presently serving out the balance of the 18 month suspension, Mr Justice Hogan said.

The judge noted that Mr Ali was very understandably shocked by the incident. He sought time off work, “it would appear no real assistance was forthcoming and he left the job after four years employment there”.

Mr Justice Hogan said there was no doubt that O'Reilly's sentence was lenient. However, the sentencing judge was clearly influenced by O'Reilly's drug addiction, which was the "root cause" of his criminal behaviour.

While the sentence was undoubtedly lenient, the judge had substantial grounds to justify the manner in which this particular sentence for this particular offender was structured.

It was structured so as to persuade and encourage O'Reilly to wean himself from his drug addiction. It may thus be said to offer an example of where rehabilitative considerations were properly put to the fore.

Mr Justice Hogan, who sat with Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, dismissed the DPP's appeal.

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