Thursday 13 December 2018

Man who robbed a pizzeria with chainsaw-wielding accomplice avoids jail sentence

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Isabel Hayes and Fiona Ferguson

A man who robbed a pizzeria with a chainsaw-wielding accomplice has avoided a custodial sentence.

Craig Dempsey (25) formerly of Allenton Road, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing Apache Pizza in Oldbawn Shopping Centre in Tallaght on September 6, 2015.

The court heard Dempsey was acting completely out of character to pay off a drug debt and was remorseful for the offence. A total of €2535 was taken from the pizza outlet.

Dempsey, now with an address at St Finnions Close, Achill Island, Co Mayo also pleaded guilty to robbing a Spar store at Old Court Shopping Centre in Ballycullen, Co Dublin and producing a broken bottle in the course of the offence on July 20, 2015.

Garda Niall Russell told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that a staff member was preparing to close the pizzeria in the early hours of the morning when Dempsey and another man carrying an electric chainsaw ran into the store shouting “money, money”.

The other man turned the chainsaw on while Dempsey jumped over the counter and threw the till on the ground. The pair then fled with the till and were spotted by a taxi-driver making off into nearby wasteland.

Gardaí searched the wasteland and found the till and hoodie. Dempsey was recognised from CCTV footage and arrested two weeks later. He has three previous convictions, including one for burglary.

At the original sentence hearing in December 2016 defence barrister, Sorcha Whelan BL, said Dempsey had a cocaine drug debt at the time of the offence. He has moved from Dublin to Mayo to live with his sister and her family, the court heard.

“He has moved away to get away from the negative influences of people he grew up with in Tallaght,” Ms Whelan said. She said Dempsey had got involved in the local boxing club in Mayo and helped out with his sister's children.

The court heard Dempsey's father died of lung cancer three years ago and his mother is suffering from late stage emphysema. He also found the body of his four-month baby nephew who died from cot death. This had a profound effect on him, Ms Whelan said.

She said at that hearing that Dempsey had stopped taking cocaine, but was still using cannabis.

Judge Melanie Greally had previously adjourned the case for a year placing Dempsey on a probation bond during which time he would undergo probation supervision under strict conditions.

Today Judge Greally noted his principal risk factors of cocaine use and antisocial peer group appeared to have been addressed. She took into account he had not re-offended and was now a carer for his mother who is unwell.

Judge Greally imposed consecutive sentences totalling six years which she suspended in full for three years.

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