Tuesday 23 July 2019

PO robber at a 'crossroads'

Judge imposes a suspended sentence on robber and remands his accomplice in custody until November

Maugheraboy Post Office
Maugheraboy Post Office

Ciara Galvin

A 19-year-old man who robbed a post office with his friend because of drug debt has received a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Seán Lynch of 57, Knocknaganny Park and friend Jack Gorevan (19) of 5, Brookgrove, Farmhill, Strandhill Rd pleaded guilty last February to robbing Maugheraboy Post Office on 12th June, 2018.

Gorevan was represented by Mr Keith O'Grady BL instructed by McGovern Walsh Solicitors while Mr Peter Daly BL appeared on behalf of Lynch also instructed by McGovern Walsh Solicitors.

At last week's sentencing at Sligo Circuit Court, Judge Frances Comerford noted that during the robbery of the post office 'knives were waved at staff and they were put under fear'.

Lynch and Gorevan robbed €395 from the post office, a payment belonging to a customer.

Judge Comerford acknowledged that the men resorted to the hastily planned robbery as they were 'under pressure because of drug debt' and their families were 'under threat'.

CCTV footage shown previously to the court showed the men, aged 18 at the time, run into the post office dressed in black and wearing balaclavas.

Lynch, who was on bail at the time, jumped on top of the counter trying to get over the screen, while Gorevan came to the second counter wielding a knife.

An eye witness account from a man collecting money at the time recalled shouting, 'Open the register, don't touch anything'.

The court was told post office worker Rosemary Keaveney pressed the panic button as did post mistress Anne Kelly.

Ms Keaveney squeezed a bottle of water in the face of one of the men. Before the men left they grabbed €395 euro on the counter belonging to the customer.

Both men were apprehended seperately nearby a short time later and neither resisted arrest.

Judge Comerford noted that the lives of both post office employees had been 'adversely affected' and they experienced loss of confidence following the robbery.

The Judge acknowledged that Lynch had a 'difficult youth' but added that many people struggle in life but manage to 'get on'.

He mentioned Lynch had began drinking at eleven years old and consuming drugs at 14. Referring to threats to Lynch's family, Judge Comerford said, 'Taking drugs put themselves at risk and risk to families'.

Judge Comerford said the experience must have been 'terrifying' for the post office employees and though no physical contact was made with them, the robbery did involve weapons.

Recalling mitigating evidence, the Judge noted the early guilty plea and that Lynch felt guilt and shame for the offence and it was indicated in a Probation Report that there would be a fear that a custodial prison sentence could turn Lynch into a 'hardened criminal'.

"This is a cross roads occasion," said Judge Comerford, who sentenced Lynch to three years in prison suspended for a period of three years, on the provision that Lynch is under the supervision of the Probation Service for two years, attends the service on a weekly basis, completes relevant courses and complies with instructions from the service in order to address substance abuse.

"He's getting a chance to deal with critical issues. I have qualms he will not be able to take this chance, if he doesn't, he will find himself in prison"

In relation to Gorevan, the court had previously heard that during garda questioning Gorevan said if he could 'roll back the clock' he wouldn't touch a drug in his life.

It heard Gorevan struggled with addiction from a very young age.

Taking into consideration that Gorevan was facing a possible further charge, Judge Comerford proposed to put sentencing for this matter back in order to seek further information on the other pending matter.

The Judge remanded Gorevan in custody to 19th November next for sentencing. A Governor's report was directed, along with an up-to-date Probation Report.

Concluding matters, Judge Comerford commented that he hoped he would only be dealing with Gorevan and not Lynch at the next court date.

Sligo Champion