| 17.4°C Dublin

Would-be thieves jailed after they tried to rob a shop with a toy gun

TWO would-be robbers who tried to hold up a Spar shop with a toy gun have been jailed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Christopher McDonald (29) of Waterfall Court, Richmond Road, and Paul Dowdall (27) of Spencer Dock, Sherriff Street pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and having an imitation firearm at Spar in Marino Market on December 7, 2012.

The pair had to flee from the shop after a staff member pressed the panic button and McDonald injured himself after breaking glass on a door to get out.

McDonald later told gardai he needed a toy gun he was carrying “for his own protection.”

McDonald has 53 previous convictions including robbery, hijacking, escape from lawful custody as well as road traffic and public order offences.

Dowdall has 24 previous convictions including handling stolen goods, theft and road traffic offences.

Judge Martin Nolan said the chief distinguishing feature between the two was the level of previous convictions. He imposed a three and a half year sentence on McDonald and a two year sentence on Dowdall.

Garda Paul Kelly told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that a staff member at Spar spotted the masked men entering the shop. McDonald who was carrying the gun pointed it at the shop assistant and told him to get to the ground.

The staff member ran behind the counter and pushed the panic button. Dowdall made his escape but McDonald was trapped by a door sliding shut and broke glass on the door to get out causing himself a significant leg injury.

Gda Kelly said he was in the area and approached the two men in Fairview Park. He stopped them and McDonald admitted he had a toy gun in his jacket.

The men were arrested and co-operated with gardai admitting their involvement.

Gda Kelly agreed with Mr John Aylmer SC, defending McDonald, that the toy gun used in the offence had been left behind broken and it was a second toy gun found on McDonald later. He agreed McDonald required hospital treatment for his injury prior to interview.

Gda Kelly agreed with Gerardine Small BL, defending Dowdall, that her client never had possession of the gun and that he had become involved in the offence in the role of "keeping sketch" because he owed money for sleeping tablets.

Mr Aylmer said that McDonald became addicted to drugs at the age of twenty but managed to detox when he received a prison sentence in 2009.

McDonald was released clean of drugs in May 2011 but had been warned by gardai about threats to his life. He began taking sleeping tablets as he found it hard to sleep. He became addicted and gardai found sleeping tablets on him when he was arrested for this offence.

Mr Aylmer said that since he has been in custody he has again become clean of drugs. He said he is anxious to abandon crime and drugs.

Ms Small said Dowdall had worked for a time after completing his Junior Certificate but had gravitated into a subculture of substance misuse, particularly involving sleeping tablets.

She said she was instructed he addressed his drug problem by way of cold turkey and is now in the second year of a business and computer course. He has not come to adverse garda attention since the offence.