Judge Tom O’Donnell said that these types of robberies are all too frequent in Limerick city
A MAN has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for following a teenager in the city and robbing him of his phone and €3.
Christopher Mulqueen, 26, with an address at Clare Street Terrace, Dublin Road, pleaded guilty to the robbery of the Nokia phone and the small amount of cash on April 27, 2014, at around 8.15pm on the Rhebogue Road.
He entered a plea on October 27, 2015, and he has been in custody since then. He was detained the day after the offence on a separate drugs matter, and was re-arrested and questioned on this offence.
The victim, who was aged 18 at the time, had been walking on Clare Street away from the city centre. Mulqueen asked him for a lighter at one stage and he replied he had none, and they walked on. A short time later he again observed Mulqueen standing outside the A1 bar, where he stopped to tie his shoelace.
The victim at this stage knew that Mulqueen had been following him, but he told him “You’re alright kid”. Mulqueen then moved on and started urinating against a wall. He then approached the victim, with what he believed to be a knife, and said “Give me your f***king wallet or you’re getting stabbed.”
The victim handed him his wallet and said he only had his ID in it. “There’s no money in it, give me your money and you can have it back,” Mulqueen replied.
Mulqueen told him he was “short money for a bag of weed”. Under duress, the victim gave him his mobile phone.
Gardai accepted that the defendant was “frank and fortnight” in his admissions, and accepted he was involved in the robbery, but claimed he had a biro in his possession, and not a knife.
John O’Sullivan, BL, for the State, said that as there was no CCTV footage or DNA evidence, the case was grounded on the admissions made by Mulqueen.
He told gardai he was sorry for his involvement, adding: “‘If I could turn back the clock I would. It’s my first time [offending] in three and a half years.”
The injured party told gardai that he felt “completely frightened and thought I was going to be stabbed. I wasn’t in a good sitaution and thought anything could happen”. He declined to make a victim impact statement.
The element of being followed was an aggravating factor in the case, Judge Tom O’Donnell heard, but in mitigation he pleaded guilty at an early stage.
The defendant previously received a three-year prison sentence, suspended for three years.
Lawrence Boucher, BL, for the defence, said Mulqueen, who is a chronic drug user, gave away the phone for a bag of heroin.
He said there is no pattern to his string of convictions, noting the first was in 2007, followed by public order in 2009, drugs for his own use the same year, firearms in 2011, and possession of articles in 2013.
“There is always a couple of years gap and then he re-offends again. They’re semi spontaneous,” said Mr Boucher.
He asked that any custodial sentence would have an element of rehabilitation. “It’s about time he took responsibility for his actions. He does have some elements in his character that could be salvaged from this mess,” he added.
Judge O’Donnell said this was a “very opportunistic crime, which is all too familiar to us on the streets of Limerick”.
Judge O’Donnell imposed a three year sentence, but suspended the last 18 months, on condition that he be of good behaviour for three years. He is to be under the care of the probation services for 18 months post release.