Wednesday 24 January 2018

Robber is jailed after he carried out raids to feed his drug addiction

Sonya McLean

A MAN who carried out five robberies and one attempted robbery while armed with various imitation firearms has been sentenced to 10 years with the final three suspended.

Keith Meehan (34) was unlawfully at large from Wheatfield Prison when he carried out the raids having been granted temporary release. He said he committed the offences to feed a long standing heroin addiction.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five robberies, one attempted robbery and six charges of possession of an imitation firearm in Tallaght, Knocklyon, Firhouse, Ballymount Road, Church Road and Woodbine Road between June 14, 2010 and April 23, 2011.

Meehan of Monksfield Walk, Clondalkin, has 61 previous convictions for robbery, road traffic offences, drugs and firearms.

He and an accomplice either covered their faces with hoods and scarves or baseball caps and sunglasses when they raided a convenience store, a service station, an off license, a bookmakers and two pharmacies.

They made off with €3,787, vodka, cigarettes and tablets after demanding cash from tills, safes and dispensaries.

The court heard from various gardai that staff were left frightened and intimidated following the robberies. It was accepted that although no staff members were physically injured; they were all threatened with violence.

Meehan told gardai during interview that he carried out each robbery to feed his heroin addiction but admitted “the drugs don’t make me do it”. He often apologised for scaring the staff.

Meehan was nominated as a suspect in each case through CCTV footage and DNA left at the scene.

On one occasion, gardai knew the getaway car , a Honda Integra, that had been used during the robbery and Meehan was stopped driving that vehicle a number of weeks later. He gave a false name and address and continued using that identity throughout a number of garda interviews before gardai discovered who he was.

He was arrested on August 27, 2010 when gardai secured a warrant to search the house he was staying in at the time. A replica handgun, a helmet and a black scarf were discovered in his bedroom. He was questioned but released without charge.

Garda David O’Neill told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting that in April 2011 Meehan and an accomplice tried to rob a pharmacy on the Ballymount Road, after telling the owner of the shop, “This is a stick up”.

The man told Meehan to “fuck off” pressed two panic alarms and ran into a back office. The raiders did not follow him and left the shop.

Meehan was later arrested after gardai stopped him that day in the Toyota Yaris he was driving. He refused to get out of the vehicle and Gda O’Neill said had to “forcibly remove him”. Two handguns and a hammer were found in the back of the car.

Raymond Farrell BL, defending, said his client has since started to deal with his drug addiction. He said he carried out the raids to feed his addiction and “it was either this or dealing drugs”, counsel submitted.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted that “after some hesitation” Meehan made full admissions and co-operated with the garda investigations.

“The robberies put the fear of God in the staff and I believed he intended to do this to get what he wanted,” Judge Nolan said.

He said the offences “warranted a very serious custodial sentence” but suspended the final three years taking into account Meehan’s pleas of guilty and co-operation with the garda investigation.

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