Thursday 22 February 2018

Post Office worker felt 'kind of sorry' for man who handed in note saying he had a 'bomb'

The Courts of Criminal Justice
The Courts of Criminal Justice

Declan Conlon

A man who handed a post office worker a note saying he was wearing a bomb has avoided a jail term at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

James Bennett (22) of Clanbrassil Street, Dublin had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Leonard’s Corner Post office on October 17, 2013.

Garda Rory Heffernan told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that Bennett approached the counter of the post office where two women were working at about 11.30am, put a note under the hatch and then took out a pellet gun. The note said “I have a bomb strapped to my body”.

The two workers immediately ran into the back office and then Bennett left. Gardaí identified him from CCTV and arrested him shortly afterwards on Clanbrassil Street. His pellet gun was found in a nearby bin.

In a victim impact statement, post office worker Geraldine Smith said that the incident was “on the lower end of the scale” that she had experienced and that she “felt kind of sorry for the chap”.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said of Ms Smith that it is “unfortunate that she needs to have a scale” of seriousness for robberies.

She acknowledged the “resilience” of the victims and said they were “a credit to An Post” in regard to how they dealt with the incident.

Judge Ring said that Bennett had told gardaí during interview that he had been desperate at the time to get money for a home for both him and his girlfriend.

She sentenced him to three years in prison which she suspended in full “in light of his willingness to work (with the Probation Service) and his ability to stay out of trouble”.

Bennett must remain under supervision of the Probation Service for 18 months and keep the peace for three years.

Gda Heffernan agreed with Ronan Kennedy BL, defending, that Bennett made full admissions when questioned, that “he had some intention to try and improve his lot”, and that the crime was “amateurish”.

Mr Kennedy told Judge Ring that Bennett and his girlfriend were being kicked out of their apartment at the time and that Bennett was desperate to get money to pay for a deposit.

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