Armed robber was unaware gardai were in back of shop checking CCTV on another incident

By Alison O'Riordan

An armed robber who held up a shop while two gardai were in the back checking CCTV footage has being jailed.

Drug addict Patrick Dunne (30) brandished an imitation firearm at a shop assistant before being chased out of the shop by the gardaí.

Dunne of Santry Lodge, Ballymun, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing the Centra shop at Coultry Road in Ballymun, Dublin on September 12, 2017. He has 93 previous convictions, including theft, burglary and criminal damage.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a four-and-a-half year sentence on Dunne saying he had terrified customers when he produced a “convincing imitation” firearm to rob the shop.

Detective Ronan Darcy told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that Dunne entered the shop in a black jacket with his hood up before 8pm on the evening of the crime.

He waited in line with his hand in his jacket until he got to the till before pointing the “realistic imitation firearm” at a shop assistant, the court heard.

Dunne demanded that the cashier open the till, handing him a blue plastic bag to fill with cash. The cashier had difficulty at first opening the cash register and Dunne said: "This is your last chance or I'll shoot you."

The shop assistant finally managed to open the till and Dunne told him he wanted "everything." The shop assistant put €880 into the bag as the imitation firearm was pointed at him.

During the robbery the backdoor of the shop opened and gardaí arrived in, the court heard. Det Darcy said he and a colleague had “coincidentally” been studying footage in the rear of the shop in relation to another investigation before becoming aware that a robbery was occurring.

Det Darcy drew his firearm and called out "Armed gardaí" but Dunne failed to drop his weapon and ran out of the shop. The gardaí chased him down and arrested him. The imitation firearm measuring 7.5 inches in length was later discovered in a rear garden in Coultry Crescent in Ballymun.

Det Darcy agreed with Fiona Murphy BL, defending, that Dunne was a self-confessed drug addict who had used drugs since his early teens, progressing into a serious addiction.

Ms Murphy said her client had been caught “red-handed” and carried out the robbery as he owed an €800 debt at the time. She said he offered a full apology for what he did and had entered a guilty plea at the earliest stage.

Judge Nolan noted that Dunne robbed and stole to feed his drug problem before sentencing him to four and a half years in prison. He backdated the sentence to December 12, 2017.

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