A Co Clare woman posing as an escort and armed with an imitation semi-automatic revolver robbed a "terrified" man of €300 after the two arranged to meet for paid sex, a court has heard.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Eoin Garavan jailed Clara Chapman (27) of Church View, Miltown Malbay for four years with the last 18 months of the prison term suspended.
Judge Garavan described Chapman’s robbery as a “ruthlessly planned and a ruthlessly and efficiently executed” set up.
“An armed robbery is what this was. This man must have been terrified,” he said.
Judge Garavan said that Chapman’s offence involved the “humiliation of the victim”.
In the case, Chapman’s 38-year-old victim replied to an advert she placed on online classified website Locanto, advertising for paid sex saying that she was a "young Irish escort".
The man arrived by bicycle at 2pm on the afternoon of November 22nd 2019, near Castlewood Park in Ennis.
The man handed over two €50 notes for the paid sex as agreed and when the two got to a nearby alleyway, Chapman produced the imitation firearm and told the man: ‘I’m not an escort. I am a garda and you are on tape’.
The man handed over another €200 and Chapman also took his bicycle.
Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL, said that Chapman “never intended having sex with the man - her intention was to take the money”.
Judge Garavan said that after Chapman produced the fake gun “it must have been a pretty horrific experience for a young man who was expecting something rather different for his exchange of €100”.
Judge Garavan said that Chapman “would have got away with this but for the good work of the eagle-eyed gardaí.”
Judge Garavan noted that the victim opted not to come to court to provide a victim impact statement “and there must have been an element of humiliation for falling for this in those circumstances”.
Garda Niamh O’Malley told the court that gardaí were able to get camera footage from a passing bus en route to Dublin that captured the injured party and Chapman.
Garda O’Malley also said that gardaí obtained footage from a nearby Applegreen service station that also identified the two together.
The garda said that a Garda search of Chapman’s home recovered an imitation firearm, an air gun that resembled a Colt 7 automatic pistol.
Chapman has 46 previous convictions and is currently serving a jail term to July 2023 for a drugs related offence.
Counsel for Chapman, Aaron Desmond BL, said that she was placed into foster care at the age of two and both her biological parents suffered from addiction issues.
Mr Desmond said that Chapman became addicted to heroin and subsequently entered a methadone programme.
He said that while serving her current prison term, Chapman has made great strides in education and addressing her addiction.
He said that the mother-of-two pleaded guilty to the robbery offence and has great insight into her offending.
Judge Garavan said that the two and a half year prison term starts now, so that an element of Chapman’s new prison term will run concurrent to her existing one.