Lengthy prison sentence for Limerick youth who threatened to shoot woman

Craig O’Donnell was jailed for a total of eight and-a-half years

David Hurley


David Hurley

Lengthy prison sentence for Limerick youth who threatened to shoot woman

Craig O’Donnell was jailed for a total of eight and-a-half years

A YOUNG man who threatened to shoot a woman if she did not hand over her handbag and phone has been jailed for eight and-a-half years.

In addition to pleading guilty to robbery,​ Craig O’Donnell, aged 20, of O’Malley Park, Southill, also pleaded guilty to charges relating to a spate of burglaries at student accommodation in Castletroy.

During a sentencing hearing last month Limerick Circuit Court was told the defendant and another man approached the woman as she was sitting in her car outside her home in Castletroy shortly before midnight on August 1, 2015.

Detective Garda Pardaic Quirke said the woman was on the phone when the car door “swung open”.

He said O’Donnell, blocked her from getting out of the car and demanded that she hand over her valuables.

A pellet gun was pointed at the woman’s head by O’Donnell who said he would shoot and kill her if she did not cooperate.

“She thought she was going to die,” Det Garda Quirke told Cephas Power BL, prosecuting.

The culprits escaped with a Michael Kors handbag which contained around €170 in cash and a variety of bank and identity cards.

While the handbag and phone were recovered by gardai, the cash was not.

In a victim impact statement, the woman, who is in receipt of disability allowance, said she was treated in hospital for post traumatic stress following the incident and still wakes in the middle of the night.

She said she has had to leave her home on a number of occasions since as she does not feel safe and is constantly double-checking the locks.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told that during one of the burglaries the occupant of a house at Cambridge Close was woken when a male entered his bedroom at around 4am on December 3, 2014.

When he followed him, he encountered a second man (Mr O’Donnell) who was armed with a knife.

After the culprits escaped with his phone and wallet, the student, who is from Ennis, got a taxi home and his parents raised the alarm.

Brian McCartney QC said his client was “absolutely stoned out of his head” when he committed the robbery and the earlier burglary offences and that his motivation was to get money to pay for drugs.

Imposing sentence on Friday, Judge Tom said the incidents had been very frightening for each of the victims and that the use of a weapon and the threats of violence were an aggravating factor.

He noted the defendant – a father-of-one – was addicted to drugs at the time and that none of the victims had been physically injured.

The judge said O’Donnell was living a “chaotic lifestyle” in the past but that he is “now more mature”.

He imposed consecutive sentences totalling ten years suspending the final 18 months.

The judge directed the defendant be given credit for any time he has already served in custody.