Chronic alcoholic with 261 previous convictions loses appeal over robbery of 83-year-old man

Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

By Ruaidhrí Giblin

A chronic alcoholic with 261 previous convictions has lost an appeal against his sentence for robbing an 83-year-old man whose independence in life has been destroyed.

Patrick McAuliffe (53) with an address at St Vincent’s Hostel, Anglesea Terrace, in Cork had pleaded guilty to theft and robbery of €300 cash and €2,300 cash from an 83-year-old at two locations in the city on November 12, 2015.

McAuliffe was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge David Riordan at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on November 1, 2016.

He lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that the net jail term of four years was “almost lenient” having regard to the “catastrophic” effects on the victim and McAuliffe’s “depressingly lengthy” list of previous convictions.

Giving background, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the injured party was effectively pickpocketed by McAuliffe while preparing to enter a bus in Cork city on the day in question.

McAuliffe followed the injured party onto the bus and when he got off, violently confronted him, throwing him to the ground and robbing him of a further cash sum of €2,300.

At the time of the offence, McAuliffe was homeless and a chronic alcoholic with a heroin problem.

He had 261 previous convictions dating back to 1981 including convictions for theft, handling stolen property, deception, domestic violence, public order, threatening and abusive behaviour, assault, assaulting gardai, possession of knives and various types of drugs offence. He had one previous conviction for robbery and one previous conviction for section 3 assault, Mr Justice Mahon said.

The injured party was severely traumatised as a result of his experience. His physical health deteriorated and will not now leave his home unless accompanied. He has lost interest in his business.

Mr Justice Mahon said the sentencing judge correctly placed the offence on the higher end of the gravity scale. While the first offence was opportunistic, the second offence was premeditated and carefully executed presumably in the hope or expectation that the injured party was carrying additional case.

What rendered the second offence especially serious, Mr Justice Mahon said, was the fact the injured party was an elderly man which would have been obvious to McAuliffe. Presumably, this made him an easy victim and one unlikely to resist or give chase when robbed the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon said the effects on the injured party were “catastrophic”. His independence had been destroyed at a late stage in his life. He had been a person with a strong sense of independence who enjoyed life. All of this changed suddenly the day he was robbed by McAuliffe.

“It changed his life,” Mr Justice Mahon said. He had worked since 1947 but now he had lost all confidence and didn’t want to go out.

He said the offence was perpetrated by someone with a “depressingly lengthy list of previous convictions”. The risk of reoffending had to be very high.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the net custodial sentence of four years was “almost lenient” and would not be interfered with by the three-judge court. The appeal was therefore dismissed

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