| 6.9°C Dublin

Freed thief connected to horror sword attack

A BUNGLING Dublin thief who binned a priceless 4,000-year-old gold necklace is serving a sentence for his part in a notorious Samurai sword attack.

Clueless Anthony Dowling (35) threw the artefact in a skip without realising its worth, after stealing it from a Co Roscommon pharmacy with hapless pal Robert Dempsey (29).

Dowling is currently serving a sentence for his role in a horrific sword attack at the Deputy Mayor pub in Meekstown, Dublin, in 2008. He brandished a hammer in the attack, in which his associate Charlie Russell wielded a Samurai sword, chopping off an innocent carpenter's hand.

Dowling and Dempsey were given suspended sentences yesterday for the necklace theft.

A court heard that a 'remorseful' Dempsey went to the National Museum to view the artefact, a national treasure, after gardai recovered it and handed it over to the State.

The necklace, known as a lunula, was stolen in a break-in in Strokestown, Co Roscommon on March 27 last year and was only recovered in the nick of time by Kilmainham gardai.

At Roscommon Circuit Court Dempsey of Reuben St, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to burglary at Sheehan's Pharmacy in Strokestown. Dowling (35) of Blanchardstown Drive, Dublin 15 admitted a charge of possession of stolen goods.

Detective Sergeant John Costello told the court that the robbery took place at about 4am. They removed the safe at the pharmacy and also took cosmetics and medication before travelling back to Dublin.

Gardai, meanwhile, received information about vehicles acting suspiciously in the Strokestown area and, with the aid of CCTV footage from the toll plaza, tracked down the accused men in Dublin by linking them to their vehicles.

Detective Sgt Costello said neither of the men had any idea of the value of the items they had stolen. The gold lunula and two gold discs had been placed in an envelope in the safe by Ms Sheehan's father 50 years earlier. They dated from 2000 BC.


Unaware of what they had stolen, they threw the unopened envelope into a black refuse sack and dumped it in a skip alongside flats at Reuben St.

The skip was due to be collected the following day, so gardai immediately sealed it off and had it removed to Kilmainhan garda station. Gardai sifted through the rubbish before finding the envelope containing the ancient jewellery.

At the sentencing hearing in Roscommon yesterday, Judge Anthony Kennedy described it as an opportunistic robbery. He imposed a three-year suspended sentence on Dempsey and gave Dowling a two-year suspended sentence.

The sentence is concurrent to an eight year term being served by Dowling for his role in the January 2008 pub attack.