Dublin man gets five years for robbing schoolkids with Stanley knife while on bail

A Finglas drug addict who used a Stanley knife blade to rob three school children of their smartphones has received a five-year prison sentence.

Robert Kinlan (aged 27) was on bail on the evening of April 23, 2013 when he met the young teenagers walking home. He told them to stand up against a wall and threatened to cut them with the blade if they didn't hand over their phones.

The youngest victim, a then 14-year-old girl, began to shake with fear and was close to tears. She told gardaí afterwards that she was never as scared in her life and she is still undergoing counselling sessions.

A second victim, then 16, said that there isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't think about the robbery. The third victim, then aged 15, had wanted to come to court for the sentence hearing but was unable to get the day off school.

Kinlan of Ballygall Parade, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery and attempted robbery at Glasaree Road and Finglas Place, both in Finglas, on April 23, 2013. He was charged with production of an offensive weapon relating to the robberies and these charges were taken into consideration.

His 40 previous convictions include five robberies, two of attempted robbery and two thefts. In 2013 he received a four-year prison sentence for another robbery offence.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said that young people who have high value phones are now a vulnerable target for people like Kinlan and the court cannot overlook that.

She suspended the final 18 months of a five-year sentence which must be served after his current prison sentence is completed.

Garda David Doran told Karen O'Connor BL, prosecuting, that after carrying out the first robberies Kinlan later robbed two other teenagers, aged 17 and 16.

He grabbed the terrified 17-year-old by the arm, pushed him against the wall and head-butted him. Kinlan told the 16-year-old: “Don't run or scream or I'm going to stab him four times”.

The 17-year-old's eye swelled up immediately after the assault and when the two victims went to run across a road to get away he was nearly run over by a passing car.

Gda Doran agreed with Sandra Frayne BL, defending, that after Kinlan was arrested and sobered up he was genuinely remorseful. The father-of-one repeatedly told gardaí: “Will you tell all the kids that I'm sorry.”

Judge Ring commented that despite evidence that Kinlan was intoxicated, he was “cute enough” to ask the victims to take the batteries and SIM cards out of their phones so he would not be tracked and followed.

Ms Frayne said that her client has been in the criminal justice system since the age of ten and he became a drug addict at age 13. She said he has attended drug counseling and is on Methadone while in custody.

She asked Garda Doran how he looked now compared to how he looked when he was arrested and the garda said: “He's a new man”.

Kinlan also pleaded guilty to assault of a fellow inmate William McDonagh and breach of peace at an exercise yard in Mountjoy prison on August 28, 2012. He was one of around 12 other prisoners who punched, kicked and used blades to cut the victim.

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