Saturday 16 December 2017

Man used a syringe in shop raid

Anne Campbell

A 34-year-old man who had a syringe during a robbery at a Drogheda store where two women, including one who was pregnant, were working, has been jailed after the circuit court heard he had a previous conviction for using a syringe during another robbery.

John O'Connor, 65 Georgian Close, Drogheda, admitted possession of the syringe and robbery of the Spar shop at Donore Road on February 21 2016.

One of the women had her head down and was counting money when O'Connor came in. He had a plastic bag in his hand and grabbed the woman counting cash by the jumper and told her: 'Give me the f**king money'.

The woman told him to wait and she pressed the panic button and O'Connor turned to go and the worker put the cash in her clothes but he came back over to her. He tried to get to the till, but she stood in front of it and leaned on it but he pushed her out of the way and took around €250 in cash. The pregnant woman was also working the shop, but she was not injured and witnessed the robbery.

O'Connor ran out the door and was arrested by Gardai around ten days later. He was found to have a syringe on him in his pocket and he admitted having it in his hand on the day of the robbery but Gardai said the women didn't see it on the day.

Both victims said they were frightened and shaken during and after the robbery, but Gardai said the women had recovered and didn't wish to come to court or give victim impact statements.

O'Connor has 13 previous convictions, including a four year sentence handed down in May 2013 for robbery with a syringe. He was

Barrister Irene Sands said her client had led 'a completely normal life' until 2009 when his relationship with his partner broke up and he lost his house and his work in the tarmac business.

He moved into rented accommodation but another man, a heroin user, later moved in and O'Connor quickly became 'chronically' addicted to heroin, using three bags a day and sometimes injecting into his hands.

Ms Sands said O'Connor made full admissions to Gardai and he was 'disgusted with himself' when he watched the CCTV. He told them he decided to rob the shop because he owed money for a drug debt and 'was walking just decided to rob the shop'. He expressed remorse for his actions and has been in custody since his arrest on March 3 last year.

Judge Michael O'Shea said O'Connor had made huge efforts to get off heroin, going cold turkey in Cloverhill prison and not taking methadone.

But there were 'substantial aggravating factors' including the fact that he has a previous conviction for a similar offence. He imposed a three year sentence, backdated to March 3 2016 and suspended the final year of the term.

Drogheda Independent

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