Staff in bookies thought it was a joke when former soldier stole cash bag in 'moment of madness'
A former soldier who stole a cash bag from a bookies in a “moment of madness” to repay a drug debt has been given a suspended sentence.
Paul Fields (29) was known to staff in the bookies who initially thought it was a joke and that he would bring the money back. Fields, who had served a tour of duty in Chad, later told gardai he was under pressure to repay a drug debt and had been told he would be killed.
Fields, of Moatview Drive, Priorswood, Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €3,840 at Ladbrokes, Priorswood Shopping Centre, on March 9, 2018.
Garda Fergal Duffy told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that the manager of the Ladbrokes store was leaving to bring coins and notes to the value of €3,840 to the bank in a cash bag.
As she left the store Fields, whom she recognised as a customer, held the door for her. Fields then snatched the bag and ran out of the shop to a car which drove off towards Priorswood Road.
The manager initially thought Fields was messing and would bring the money back. She said she did not feel Fields was a threat to her and she was not in fear during the theft.
Gardai attended at the scene and viewed CCTV. Fields was arrested and had €300 on him when searched by gardai. The remainder of the money was not recovered.
Fields told gardai he had been using cocaine and was under pressure to repay a drug debt. He said he had “no choice” and had been told he would be killed. He would not say to whom he gave the money.
Fields has nine previous convictions, one for a public order offence and the rest for road traffic offences.
Gda Duffy agreed with Marc Thompson Grolimund BL, defending, that Fields had expressed remorse and regret. Counsel said Fields had pulled the door open for the manager before snatching the bag “in a moment of madness.”
Mr Thompson Grolimund said Fields had been an upstanding member of the community prior to this offence. Fields had been in the army and served abroad in Chad. He also worked as a labourer.
Counsel said after Fields returned from Chad he had been stationed in Athlone and felt isolated from his family. He said Fields returned to Dublin, used cocaine and ran up a drug debt.
He said Fields was now using his time constructively volunteering with local community groups.
Judge Martin Nolan noted Fields personal circumstances, that he had co-operated with gardai and did not have a serious record of conviction. He also took into account the contents of a probation report handed into court.
Judge Nolan imposed a two and a half year sentence which he suspended in full on strict conditions.