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Grandad who took handbag is a 'sneak'

A GRANDFATHER who stole a young woman's bag while she was sitting in a coffee shop has been told by a judge that he is a "sneak" and his behaviour was "lower than low".

James Ryan (50) said he had battled a drink problem for years, and that he "carries the shame" of his behaviour.

He snatched the woman's bag, which contained €80, while she was drinking coffee in Starbucks at College Green.

Judge Patrick McMahon told Ryan his behaviour was "thieving at its worst", and told him to imagine how he would feel if the incident had happened to his wife, sister or child. The judge told Ryan he needed to think of the victims of his crimes.

Judge McMahon said he imagined the woman had worked all week, had saved her wages and had come into town to go shopping, and then suddenly her bag was snatched.

Ryan, of St Anthony's Road, Rialto, admitted before the Dublin District Court to stealing a handbag containing €80 cash on September 21 last year.


Garda Jonathan Griffin said the victim had the bag at her feet while she was sitting in Starbucks, but Ryan, who was working with an accomplice, managed to snatch it right from under her.

The court heard Ryan had 19 previous convictions, mostly for theft. His defence lawyer said alcohol played its part in this offence, but Ryan had no excuses for his behaviour.

A court previously heard Ryan was a father of four grown-up children, and was now a grandfather. He is unemployed but previously worked in a slaughterhouse. However, he lost his job, started drinking heavily and his marriage broke up. He is now divorced.

Judge McMahon said alcohol was a drug like any other, but in Ireland, unlike the US, alcoholics were not regarded as suitable for drug treatment.

The judge said Ryan's behaviour was disgraceful and "lower than low".

Judge McMahon gave the defendant a choice -- three months in prison or 11 months suspended for a year. Against his lawyer's advice, Ryan chose 11 months suspended for a year.

The judge warned Ryan that if he committed any offences in the next year he would impose the full 11-month sentence.