Judge’s praise for staff who grappled with thief

The incident happened at Matthew Stephens jewellers on O'Connell Street

The incident happened at Matthew Stephens jewellers on O'Connell Street

  • by David Hurley

A JUDGE has commended the bravery of staff and customers at a city centre jewellers who grappled with an armed robber who tried to steal a gold necklace.

Judge Carroll Moran made his comments as he sentenced Mark Foran, aged 27, of North Claughaun Road, Garryowen to three years imprisonment for his role in the offence last summer.

During a sentencing hearing, this Monday, Judge Moran was told the defendant entered the store shortly before 2pm on September 7 last armed with a hammer, which he used to smash a display case.

Garda Barry Manton said Foran, who was disguised with a hoodie then removed an “18 carat white gold garden flower necklace”, worth €4,675 from the display stand before trying to flee.

However, he was initially prevented from leaving by a member of staff who confronted him.

A number of customers also provided assistance.

Garda Manton told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that Foran, who struggled violently, was disarmed and restrained until gardai arrived a short time later.

Limerick Circuit Court was told the necklace was recovered and that it is the State case the defendant was caught red handed.

“It was a brazen act of a man desperate to fund his (heroin) addiction,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

During interview Foran, who has a large number of convictions dating back more than a decade, told gardai he could not remember what had happened as he was high on drugs at the time.

Brian McInerney BL, defending, said his client was so intoxicated when arrested he a doctor who was called to Henry Street garda station declared he was unfit to be questioned until several hours afterwards.

He said his client had no trappings of wealth and that the bulk of his previous convictions were in order to fund his heroin habit.

He said Foran is attending counselling in prison and that he accepts he needs assistance in beating his addiction.

Imposing sentence, Judge Moran said the customers and staff had endured a “very frightening experience” and he praised their actions on the day.

“I commend everyone present in the store for their fortitude in apprehending him, restraining him, disarming him and keeping him there until the gardai arrived,” he said commenting that Foran is physically a “big man”.

He said the defendant has a very bad record and has several convictions for robbery and burglary.

He imposed a four year prison sentence, suspending the final 12 months for four years.

The sentence was backdated to September 7 last - the date on which the offence occured.


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