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Fake-gun raider (21) jailed after vicious attack on assistant

AN ARMED robber who attacked a shop keeper with the butt of a replica handgun has been jailed for three years.

Lee McDonnell (21) struck the victim to the back of the head during the robbery.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that McDonnell, of Lough Conn Road, Ballyfermot, has 74 previous convictions.

He was previously sentenced to four years in jail for hijacking a car and is before the courts on two other matters.

McDonnell pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery at Sarsfield Service Station, Ballyfermot, on January 21, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to robbing cigarettes and a sunglasses case and to robbing Tadas Urbanavicius, the shop assistant, on the same occasion.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a six-year sentence but suspended the last three years for three years. He said he was doing this mainly because of McDonnell's young age.

Detective Garda Ronan Coffey told Michael Bowman, prosecuting, McDonnell and two other men were filmed on garda CCTV cameras pulling into the service station and going into the shop.

Struck

He said that one man pulled out a knife and jumped over the counter. McDonnell pulled out what staff thought was a real handgun and demanded to know where the safe was.

At one stage McDonnell struck the shop assistant, Mr Urbanavicius, on the back of the head with the butt of the gun.

The raiders were told the safe was on a time-lock and tried to dislodge it but failed. They then took Mr Urbanavicius's phone and his wallet containing €300 in cash.

McDonnell struck him again to his left eye. As they left the man with the knife grabbed two bottles of wine.

Det Coffey told the court that a witness who was standing in the forecourt tried to film the robbers as they left the shop.

McDonnell pointed the replica gun at the man, who then hid behind a van when he saw that the gun looked like it was cocked.

McDonnell was later arrested and interviewed eight times but made no admissions. Gardai found the replica pistol in a sweet tin buried under a tree behind some houses.

Det Coffey said McDonnell's previous convictions include robbery and assault causing harm which were dealt with in the Children's Court.

Paul Greene, defending, said his client had a "difficult and chaotic upbringing" and started drinking "with the wrong crowd" at the age of 14.

Judge Nolan said that this was a thoroughly violent crime but said he also had to consider McDonnell's plea of guilty and his difficult background when sentencing.

On imposing his sentence he said that the court always held out hope for rehabilitation for someone so young. He backdated the sentence to January 23, when McDonnell when into custody for these offences.

hnews@herald.ie


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