A mother-of-two who stabbed a man in the arm with scissors and later produced a knife during an attempted robbery has been jailed for four years.
Claire Burke (31), who first approached a man and offered to sell him “grass”, then stabbed him in the wrist after he prevented her attempt to walk off after she received the money.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that while she was on bail for this offence, she entered a garage, produced a knife which she pointed at an employee and told them to give her all the money in the till.
Burke, originally from Co Kilkenny and with an address Seville Place, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Temple Lane South, Dublin 2, on November 12th, 2018.
She also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and production of an article in the course of a dispute at Ninth Lock Road, Clondalkin, on June 27th, 2020. She has 14 previous convictions, including convictions for theft and begging.
Cycle of drug addiction
After hearing evidence of the more recent offence on Wednesday, Judge Melanie Greally said Burke had her chance and did not take it. She said Burke had committed a very serious offence when given her chance and remanded her in custody.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Greally said Burke has unfortunately lapsed into a cycle of drug addiction, homelessness and associated offending. She said Burke is currently engaging with the Anna Liffey project.
Judge Greally said defence counsel has “strongly advocated” that his client has turned over a new leaf. She said she was not convinced there has been the type of transformation that has been presented to the court.
She sentenced Burke to two years imprisonment for the assault in November 2018. She also sentenced Burke to four years imprisonment for the latter offences in June 2020 and ordered that this sentence run consecutive to the former.
Two years suspended
Judge Greally suspended the final two years of the latter sentence on strict conditions, for an effective operative sentence of six years imprisonment with the final two years suspended.
At a previous sentencing hearing in March 2020, Garda David Dineen told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that on the night in question, Burke and another woman approached a man walking home with a bicycle.
Burke told the man that she could sell him “grass” for €15. When he handed over the money, the woman began walking away and replied “What money?” when the man asked for his money back.
The man stopped her by putting a hand on her shoulder. Burke took a pair of scissors out of her top and stabbed the man in his left wrist. She also tried to stab him in his right leg, but he moved out of the way.
During the assault, the other woman encouraged another man to steal the injured party's bike. This man was later arrested by gardaí and the bike was recovered.
Open the till
Gda Dineen agreed with Luigi Rea BL, defending, that his client was living on the streets at the time of the incident and that the offence was an attempt to raise funds to purchase drugs. He agreed that Burke was now entirely clean of drugs.
After hearing evidence in March 2020, Judge Greally said “it is a very nasty offence indeed”. She said she proposed to release Burke on bail and that she was giving Burke an opportunity to demonstrate she can build on the progress made in prison.
At a sentence hearing on Wednesday, Garda Patrick Fallon told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that in June 2020 while Burke was on bail for the previous offence, she entered a garage in Clondalkin and pulled a knife out of her trousers.
Gda Fallon said Burke pointed the knife at an employee and told her to open the till “and give me all the money out of it”.
Throes of addiction
The employee explained she could not open the till, but Burke said she could and told her to give her the money “or I'm going to stick this in you”.
Burke tried to run around the counter to the till, but a male employee shouted to press the panic alarm and the accused woman left the shop. Gardaí who were responding to the crime encountered Burke en route, who immediately made admissions and said a man had made her do it.
Gda Fallon agreed with Mr Rea that his client has stabilised a good deal compared to where she was when she was committing offences. He agreed she was in the throes of crack cocaine addiction at the time and had an underlying heroin problem, but was now stable on methadone.