A man who tried to rob a post office with a brush "as a joke" to get back into prison has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
John Wheeler (49), of Barnamore Park, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of attempting to rob the post office at Botanic Road, Dublin, last October 13.
The court heard Wheeler brandished a sweeping brush inside a plastic bag during the incident.
Gda Barry Brennan said the 72-year-old post office owner had returned from a break and had gone to check a safe at the back of the premises when he heard a banging noise coming from the front of the store.
When he returned, he saw Wheeler banging on the counter with a plastic bag concealing a two foot object that the owner believed was a gun.
Wheeler told him to "put the f**king money" in a bag he held in his other hand.
The owner told Wheeler he would get money from the back of the post office and, once there, pressed a panic button.
He observed Wheeler leave the premises a minute later and the owner's son arrived shortly after.
Gda Brennan told Ann Rowland, prosecuting, that he arr-ived on the scene and reviewed CCTV footage.
The owner's son recognised Wheeler as a man he had passed sitting outside a nearby shop.
Gda Brennan discovered Wheeler in a barber shop next to the shop and invited him outside and asked him if he had recently been in the post office.
"I went to rob the place as a joke," Wheeler said. "I didn't mean it, though."
A plastic bag containing a sweeping brush was found abandoned in a nearby bin. Wheeler denied he had the brush with him during his robbery attempt.
"Show me this f**king CCTV or I'll smash it over your head," he said.
The court heard Wheeler has 55 previous convictions including assault, robbery, theft, forgery, dangerous driving and drink-driving matters.
Marc Thompson, defending, said Wheeler had been primarily motivated by a desire to be placed into custody again and that he had been released shortly before making the robbery attempt.
He also said his client had a long-standing drug addiction and he wished to state for the record that he had not cursed while attempting to commit the robbery.
Judge Martina Baxter noted that the offence was a "despicable, cowardly act" perpetrated on an elderly man who was alone and vulnerable.
She said the suspended period was for 24 months, subject to Wheeler engaging with the Probation Service and co-operating with it to complete a housing application.