Wednesday 21 August 2019

Man with 111 previous convictions threw trolleys in way of gardai as they chased him through looted shop

Snow being cleared during Storm Emma
Snow being cleared during Storm Emma
Centra is among the retail chains owed by the Musgrave Group
Rush harbour in North Co Dublin during Storm Emma. Photo: Mark Condren

Fiona Ferguson and Sonya McLean

A Tallaght man arrested following the looting of a Centra during Storm Emma last year has been sentenced to two years in prison with the final year suspended.

John Doyle (38), who has 111 previous convictions, threw trolleys in the path of gardai as they chased him through the shop.

He had only been in the shop for 90 seconds before gardai arrived and found him with three packets of cigarettes.

Doyle, of Russell Drive, Russell Square, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespassing at Centra, Kiltalown, Tallaght on March 2, 2018 with the intention of committing theft.

Judge Melanie Greally said that for Doyle to act as he did “during a national emergency” justified a prison sentence.

“Under no circumstances could I consider a non-custodial sentence,” she added.

“It was undoubtedly a very serious incident of anti-social and destructive behaviour, which brought shame on his community and his family,” the judge said.

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Centra is among the retail chains owed by the Musgrave Group

She accepted that Doyle had a long-term partner who was “very prosocial and intolerant of his past bad behaviour and is a very positive influence on him” and also accepted that he was a devoted family man and father.

Judge Greally said she was taking into account Doyle's expression of remorse, his efforts to rehabilitate and a large number of testimonials and references handed in on his behalf before she suspended the final 12 months of a two-year sentence.

At a previous court sitting, Detective Garda David Jennings said that, shortly before 8pm, during the “atrocious” weather conditions of Storm Emma, garda were told that the security door of a Centra shop had been cut open with a mechanical saw by a group of people.

Gardai made their way as far as they could in a jeep and walked the rest of the way. As they arrived, a large group of people on the road began shouting to people inside, warning them that the gardai were coming.

Det Gda Jennings told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that the front shutter of the store had been cut open and people were coming out.

Gardai entered the shop and Doyle ran off towards the back of the building, throwing trolleys to obstruct them. He was found crouched down trying to hide in the store room.

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Rush harbour in North Co Dublin during Storm Emma. Photo: Mark Condren

Two other men were found in that area of the shop, one of whom had a sledgehammer.

Doyle's previous convictions include offences such as robbery, burglary, possession of stolen property, road traffic offences and criminal damage.

A co-accused, David Berney (37), of Suncroft Park, Tallaght, has already received an 18-month suspended sentence for his role in the incident.

Det Gda Jennings agreed with Sarah Jane O'Callaghan BL, defending, that 12 or 13 people could be seen coming in and out of the store on infrared CCTV footage and Doyle was identified by “work boots” he was wearing.

He said the majority of the damage had already been done by the time Doyle entered the shop.

It was undoubtedly a very serious incident of anti-social and destructive behaviour, which brought shame on his community and his family. Judge Melanie Greally

Det Gda Jennings agreed Doyle was not there when the shop shutters were cut open and that the cigarette machine had been forced open before he arrived.

Ms O'Callaghan said that certain people looked out of the shop and appeared to beckon others over. It was at that point that Doyle entered the store.

She said Doyle had panicked after seeing gardai and ran, throwing trolleys to slow them down. She said he was deeply ashamed of his actions, which had almost cost him his relationship with his partner.

She said he did not cause the criminal damage in the area of the shop where he was found.

Counsel said that Doyle had a significant past, but was a deeply committed father who had got his life together. She said he was disgusted that he was lured into chaos and lawlessness on the night.

She said he had drink taken on the night and entering the shop had been an “opportunistic and stupid” thing to do.

After hearing evidence last March, Judge Greally had adjourned sentencing and remanded Doyle on continuing bail pending the preparation of a report from the Probation Service.

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