Man robbed on night out in Newcastle West

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

A JUDGE said the two men who robbed a man while he was walking home alone after a night out in Newcastle West were two “brave” individuals.

A JUDGE said the two men who robbed a man while he was walking home alone after a night out in Newcastle West were two “brave” individuals.

Judge John O’Neill said it was a “mean, petty offence to take items from a man on his own”.

Inspector Eamon O’Neill told Newcastle West court it was a “horrific crime”.

Stephen Browne, 24, of Castleview Estate, Newcastle West and Tommy Phillips, 22, from Monagea pleaded guilty to robbery at Cullenagh, Newcastle West on May 22, 2011.

Insp Eamon O’Neill said that at 2.30am the injured party was assaulted and his mobile phone and wallet taken.

“The injured party was set upon. It lasted five minutes and he was in fear throughout.

“There was €20 in the wallet and no property was recovered,” said Insp O’Neill, who added that Browne has 69 previous convictions.

“Sixty-nine?” asked the judge.

“Yes,” replied Insp O’Neill.

Browne’s solicitor, Michael O’Donnell, said his client had met the victim by accident since it happened and had apologised to him.

“He has pleaded guilty. He didn’t have the best start in life, is on social welfare and his main problem is drink,” said Mr O’Donnell.

“That’s no excuse,” said Mr O’Neill, who asked why he shouldn’t send Mr O’Donnell’s client to jail.

“It is the only place for him,” said Judge O’Neill.

Mr O’Donnell said there has been some sadness in Browne’s personal life and his wife is expecting a child.

“He hasn’t come to garda attention in recent times and he will compensate the victim,” said Mr O’Donnell.

Insp O’Neill said it was a horrific crime to perpetrate on anybody.

“In his defence he had caused us routine problems but hasn’t in the last six months,” said Insp O’Neill.

Mr O’Donnell said his client had €200 in court and if the case was adjourned until September he would raise another €300.

The judge said he placed great “store” in what Insp O’Neill said as the garda were the ones “close to the ground”.

“The next time you [Browne] are thinking of doing something stupid think of what Insp O’Neill said.

“He didn’t have to open his mouth. I might have taken a different approach if he hadn’t,” said Judge O’Neill, who adjourned the case until September 14 for payment of €300 to the injured party. Judge O’Neill imposed a three month sentence, suspended for 12 months and Browne must be of good behaviour for 12 months.

“If the €300 is not paid by September 14 a custodial sentence will immediately kick in,” he said.

Phillips’ solicitor, Darach McCarthy, said his client went along with the co-accused.

“He didn’t scheme it. He held down the injured party while he was being robbed but he accepts he is equally guilty.

“He is a father of a one year-old child and is on little or no income. He gives an unqualified apology and if you afford him the opportunity to give compensation he will,” said Mr McCarthy.

Insp O’Neill said Phillips wouldn’t come to garda attention “terribly much but on this occasion he took an active part in this offence”.

Judge O’Neill adjourned sentencing until September 14. He ordered Phillips pay the injured party €500 by then and to be of good behaviour for 12 months.

“I’m making a note that no further time will be allowed for it to be paid. If you step out of line in the next 12 months you will go to jail,” said Judge O’Neill.