Friday 27 April 2018

Robbery suspect, Love/Hate star Stephen Clinch, refused bail

Co-star John Connors gave evidence in hearing

Stephen 'Clinchy' Clinch
Stephen 'Clinchy' Clinch

By Andrew Phelan

A LOVE/HATE star accused of pointing a loaded gun at a hotel employee after allegedly robbing him of more than €50,000 has been refused bail.

Stephen Clinch (49) is accused of carrying out an armed robbery at the bar with an accomplice while bags of cash were being handed over to a security man on Monday.

Both Mr Clinch and a second man alleged to have robbed the hotel worker were chased and restrained by 10 hotel employees before being arrested, Dublin District Court was told.

Mr Clinch’s Love/Hate co-star John Connors gave evidence on his behalf during the hour-long bail hearing this evening.

Judge Michael Walsh refused to grant Mr Clinch bail after gardai objected and alleged that he was “caught red-handed.” The judge remanded him in custody for a week.

The prosecuting garda said Mr Clinch had an €8,000 debt and was a “desperate man in a desperate situation.”

Both Mr Clinch, a father-of-three from Millbrook Grove, Kilbarrack and a co-accused Hugh McWeeney (43), of Main Street, Belmayne, Malahide Road, Dublin 17 are charged with robbing a man of €50,730 at The Gate Hotel, Parnell Street on Monday morning.

They are also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to commit a robbery.

Read more: Love/Hate actor charged with carrying out a €50,000 armed robbery at Dublin bar

Earlier, the court heard Mr McWeeney was not applying for bail and Judge Anthony Halpin remanded him in custody for a week.

Love/Hate actor John Connors leaving Dublin District Court after giving evidence in a unsuccessful bail hearing of co-star Stephen Clinch, who was charged with robbery/
Pic: Court Collins.
Love/Hate actor John Connors leaving Dublin District Court after giving evidence in a unsuccessful bail hearing of co-star Stephen Clinch, who was charged with robbery/ Pic: Court Collins.
Film Maker Mark O'Connor (Left) and Love/Hate actor John Connors (right) leaving Dublin District Court after giving evidence in a unsuccessful bail hearing of Stephen Clinch who has been charged with robbery. Pic: Court Collins.

Objecting to bail in Mr Clinch’s case, Garda Niall McCormack cited the nature, degree and seriousness of the alleged offences.

Outlining the proposed evidence, he said a security firm employee arrived at the hotel at around 8.15am to collect cash.

On his way to the cash office, he was intercepted by two men dressed in high-visibility clothing with hats and white dust masks.

A handgun was produced and pointed to the head of the security man as he was handing two plastic cash bags to a hotel employee, Garda McCormack alleged.

The bags were taken and the two raiders exited via a fire escape, pursued by the employee, Garda McCormack said. 

Mr Clinch allegedly pointed the gun at the hotel employee when they entered a stairwell, the garda said.

The pair made their way to a beer garden at the rear of the premises, in the direction of the Cathal Brugha Street exit.

The employee who had been robbed alerted colleagues and the two raiders were confronted by 10 hotel staff members, the garda continued.

The stolen cash was then taken from Mr Clinch, as well as the gun which was a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol containing four bullets. The two men were kept at the scene until the gardai arrived.

The DPP was directing trial on indictment and on conviction, the robbery charge carried a maximum potential sentence of life imprisonment, with a 14 year maximum sentence on the other charge.

On examination, the pistol was found to be a viable firearm, Garda McCormack said.

The garda said a further, less serious charge was likely to brought.

Applying for bail, Mr Clinch’s solicitor Jenny McGeever said he enjoyed a presumption of innocence and the evidence given was only proposed evidence.

His partner, daughter and two colleagues were in court.  Ms McGeever said the accused was in receipt of €188 in social welfare but had worked as a successful actor for the last eight years.

Garda McCormack said the accused did not make “any specific mention” of this but he was aware that Mr Clinch had been in some programmes.

“You are the only person in Ireland that hasn’t seen Love/Hate,” Ms McGeever said.

The garda said he had seen it but Mr Clinch had not specified frequency of work, he said.

Mr Clinch said in evidence that he had been “involved in drama” for the last eight years and would work four to five months per year.

He said if granted bail he would abide by “whatever conditions are put on me.”

Asked if he would describe himself as being in a desperate situation because of a debt, he said: “you could say that, yeah.”

He said he was hoping to pay off the debt through upcoming acting work. Mr Clinch accepted that the work was “fickle” and “on and off” but said “when it’s on, it’s really good.”

Film maker Mark O’Connor said he had worked with and was a friend of Mr Clinch, describing him as a “great actor.”

He was developing a film at the moment in which Mr Clinch was due to have his first lead role after previously playing supporting roles. This film was due to feature Damien Dempsey and UFC fighter Conor McGregor.

Actor John Connors, who played Patrick Ward in Love/Hate also gave evidence on Mr Clinch’s behalf, saying the accused was due to play the lead role in a film Mr Connors had scripted.

Mr Connors said his film was about clerical abuse, had been commissioned by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and was due to start filming this summer.

Mr Clinch, who was wearing a white t-shirt, grey tracksuit bottoms and white runners, was supported in court by his partner and daughter.

Mr Clinch’s Love/Hate character was depicted taking part in a savage jail assault in which a pool cue was used to attack Fran in the final episode of the RTE series.

He also featured in a TV3 documentary series about his own locality 'Darndale: The Edge of Town'.

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