Wednesday 23 January 2019

Robbed handbag at knifepoint

Paul Deering

A 33-year-old man who robbed a 59-year-old woman of her handbag as she walked to work around 8am has been give a five year suspended jail term and ordered to pay her €5,000 in compensation.

Geoffrey McManus, a father of two, of Langan Drive had admitted to robbing the woman of her handbag containing €70 cash in a purse at Market Street on 11th March 2016.

CCTV of the incident which occurred just outside the Paddy Power Bookmaker shop was shown to the court during the sentencing hearing.

It showed the defendant, dressed in a blue hoodie approaching the woman and grabbing her bag which the victim tried to hold on to. The defendant took out a knife and is seen lunging at the woman with it.

The defendant was represented by Ms Eileen O'Leary SC with Mr Keith O'Grady BL instructed by Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor.

Detective Garda Conor Jordan told the court the woman was making her way to work at Market Street when she was stopped by the defendant and asked her did she had a light.

She opened her bag and began to look for one when the defendant pulled out a knife and began to grab the bag. The woman tried to hold on to it but McManus got it off her and fled. He was with another man.

The incident was witness by a man who met with Gardaí shortly afterwards. McManus was identified from CCTV from Paddy Power and he was arrested the same day at 20.40. He made certain admissions and during subsequent second and third interviews he gave more detail.

Witness agreed with Ms O'Leary that the defendant was a different person when he had drink and drugs on board. At the time of the incident he was heavily intoxicated and was abusing substances.

Ms O'Leary said the defendant stated he had been sober since early 2017.

A victim impact report was read to the court by Det Garda Jordan. She stated that she believed her assailant was going to stick the knife in her heart. The knife coming towards her she thought would be the last thing she would see.

She was now wary of seeing groups of men. All of her money for that week was in her purse and was therefore left without any.

Det Garda Jordan agreed with Ms O'Leary that during interview the defendant stated that what he had done was "f***ing disgraceful" and that he was mortified.

Ms O'Leary stated that the defendant had €500 in court for his victim who wasn't present but whose son was. He also had a letter of apology.

The defendant stated that he was ashamed and mortified by his actions and had been in a very dark place at the time with drink and drug addictions.

Ms O'Leary pleaded that the defendant was very remorseful. He had since turned his life around and had co-operated with the probation service.

One of the testimonials handed in to court on the defendant's behalf was one from Lissadell House owner, Eddie Walsh for whom the defendant had worked.

Ms O'Leary said the defendnt was described as hardworking, mannerly, dedicated and with a strong work ethic. He was also prepared to give him further employment at Lissadell House.

Ms OLeary pleaded that McManus had no memory of the incident due to the condition he was in that morning.

McManus was the father of a 12 year old girl and a five month old boy and lived at home with his parents.

"Putting him in jail would have a detrimental effect and undo all the good work," pleaded Ms O'Leary.

McManus told the court he was very remorseful. When he saw the CCTV he was ashamed and absolutely gutted. It was not in his character to do something like that.

He said that alcohol and drugs had got hold of him since 2011. He was willing to undertake community service and said the probation officer, Ms Bridget Myles had helped to straighten himself out.

He expressed the hope that his victim would be able to move on from the ordeal.

"If your mum had done to her what you had done what would you expect me to do with the perpetrator?" Judge Keenan Johnson asked the defendant.

"I wouldn't be happy" - defendant.

"I'm sure you wouldn't be" - Judge.

The Judge extended the court's wishes to the victim through her son who was also given the €500 which the defendant brought to court.

Judge Johnson said it was a violent attack and but for the Grace of God it was lucky she didn't suffer serious injury. It was an unprovoked attack on an innocent, vulnerable. It was an horrific and frightening experience for her, he added.

The court was told the defendant had 16 previous convictions and it was clear said the Judge that all of the offending was drug related.

"It's clear he is ashamed of his behaviour and quite rightly so," said the Judge who noted the defendant was assessed as being at moderate risk of re-offending.

McManus was given a five year jail term, suspended for seven years. He was also ordered to enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for seven years and undergo 12 months probation service supervision. He was to continue going to AA and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and remain drug free. He must also pay his victim €5,000 over the next five years, the first payment to be paid on or before April 1st 2019.

Sligo Champion