Thursday 15 November 2018

Man who used homemade Hallowe'en 'machete' in Dunnes Stores robbery jailed for four and a half years

Dunnes Stores (stock image)
Dunnes Stores (stock image)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Dublin man who used a homemade machete-type weapon his brother had constructed for Hallowe'en to rob a Dunnes Stores has been jailed for four and a half years.

Today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Garda Richard Finan produced the weapon used by Karl McDermott (21) in the robbery.

He accepted that it appeared to be “part of a drawer”. Defence counsel Mark Lynam BL said that McDermott's younger brother, a metal fabricator, had constructed the knife.

Mr Lynam said that the knife had been made from metal at the back of a drawer for a Hallowe'en costume and was it was lying about McDermott's family home.

Counsel said McDermott had been taking tablets and took the weapon to commit a “completely irrational” robbery. He told Judge Melanie Greally that McDermott didn't need money, but was “struggling in his own head”.

McDermott, of Ratoath Avenue, Finglas, pleaded guilty to robbery and production of a handmade machete at Dunnes Stores, Cardiffsbridge Road, Finglas, on May 25, 2018.

His 45 previous convictions include robbery, possession of knives, criminal damage, violent disorder and drugs offences.

Gda Finan told prosecution counsel Diarmuid Collins BL that a Dunnes staff member was chatting to a colleague when she noticed a person walk toward the back of her checkout.

She told gardaí this person had a very long silver knife and that he began roaring at her to open the till. The raider stood behind her as she struggled to open the till and once she had managed to do so, she ran into an aisle.

She next heard shouting and then saw the man being restrained on the floor by security staff with money all around him.

The woman's colleague picked up the knife, which had fallen to the floor when the man was tackled by security staff.

This witness described it as having a padded handle covered in tin foil that was screwed onto something shiny and curved at the top. She said it looked like a machete, but it wasn't one.

One of the security men who restrained McDermott described the raider as being very strong, foaming at the mouth and having a “crazy” look on his face.

Gda Finan said he and colleagues arrived, handcuffed McDermott and put him in the patrol car. He said they were going into the shop to retrieve the knife when McDermott escaped the car.

The garda said he restrained McDermott again and this time placed him into a garda van. The court heard McDermott made no comment in interview.

Gda Finan agreed with Mr Lynam that tablets and alcohol were at the root of McDermott's problems and that his brother had taken his own life while in Mountjoy Prison.

Mr Lynam submitted that McDermott had detoxed from drugs and attended counselling while in custody serving a previous sentence. He said McDermott's parents wanted their son to go back to the prison's medical unit.

Judge Melanie Greally gave McDermott credit for his early guilty plea, but noted that the weapon had been capable of serious injury.

She said though there were no victim impact reports, she was taking for granted that the staff members were fearful and that the robbery had had lasting consequences for them.

She imposed a five and a half year sentence with the final 12 months suspended for that period.

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