A man who drunkenly tried to rob his local post office with a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun has been given a suspended sentence.
Gerard Weldon (48) told gardai he knew he had no chance of getting away with it and had wanted to get away from his life by killing himself or getting locked up.
Weldon, of Kellys Bay Heights, Skerries, North County Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted robbery at Skerries Post Office on March 22, 2003. He had seven previous convictions.
Judge Martin Nolan noted it was a replica weapon but on the day the staff believed it was real. He said Weldon was taking steps to address his problems and he imposed a four-year suspended sentence.
Garda Gerard Moroney told Seamus Clarke, prosecuting, that Weldon skipped to the front of a queue of customers at the branch and when told by the cashier, who knew him, to go back to the end of the queue he produced what looked like a gun and demanded cash.
The cashier noted he smelled of alcohol and hit the panic button. A co-worker saw what was happening, went to a back office and locked up the cash.
When Weldon pushed the object under the hatch and pointed it at the cashier's head she froze with fear thinking she may be shot.
Garda Moroney arrived on the scene from the station across the road and was directed to the front of the queue where he saw Weldon at the window.
As Weldon turned and began to walk out Garda Moroney twisted the object out of his hand and restrained him.
Weldon told gardai the object was a cigarette lighter and he had brought it with him with the intention of robbing the post office. He said he had bills to pay.
Garda Moroney agreed with Seoirse O Dunlaing, defending, that Weldon was highly intoxicated but was co-operative. He agreed Weldon had said he wanted to "get away from his life" by killing himself or by getting locked up.
Mr O Dunlaing said Weldon had been involved in a tragic car accident in 1993 in which he suffered severe physical injuries and afterwards developed a serious alcohol addiction. He said the offence was a cry for help and Weldon demonstrated extreme remorse in interview.