A 24-YEAR-OLD man who robbed his local shop at gunpoint could not be described as â€œa criminal mastermindâ€, according to his defence barrister at Limerick Circuit Court who said, â€œOf all the shops in Limerick, he went into his local shop.â€
The robber was known to the shop assistants in Seanâ€™s Shop because he came in repeatedly to exchange the coins he had collected from begging outside the door for cash. He was also known for intimidating customers by following them around the shop asking for money.
And so they were not fooled when he disguised himself by changing his tracksuit pants and partially covering his face with a white handkerchief, the court heard.
David Oâ€™Neill, who is also known as David Foreman, from Kennedy Park, Roxboro, admitted robbing â‚¬700 from Seanâ€™s Shop on Pennywell Road using an imitation shotgun which he had bought for â‚¬30, on May 27, 2010.
At 4.30pm, he aroused suspicion when he was seen pacing the footpath outside the shop holding a handkerchief.
â€œGive me the f***ing money,â€ Oâ€™Neill shouted at a shop assistant while pointing the gun at her face at 4.50pm.
When gardai arrived at the scene ten minutes later, the sales assistant pointed out the culprit who was walking in the vicinity of the shop on John Street.
Oâ€™Neill was arrested by Garda Brian Delee who later found the imitation firearm in grass 200 yards from the scene of the robbery.
Garda Delee told the court that the accused man was â€œvery cooperativeâ€ and apologised for his actions.
The stolen money was not recovered, and the court was told that Oâ€™Neill has used the money to pay off a drug debt. â€œI owe someone money,â€ he told gardai while being questioned in relation to the robbery.
â€œIf I didnâ€™t get the money Iâ€™d get my head kicked off.â€
Mark Nicholas, BL, described the defendant as â€œa reluctant robberâ€ who, he said, â€œis no Einsteinâ€.
â€œHe arrived into the shop wearing a different pair of pants. That was really going to fool people,â€ Mr Nicholas said with a note of sarcasm.
The defence counsel said Oâ€™Neill was under the influence of others because of his drug habit, and he asked the judge to look at Oâ€™Neill with compassion.
Judge Carroll Moran noted that the accused man has a mild intellectual disability, and canâ€™t read or write.
â€œI do feel that one has to take a compassionate attitude,â€ Judge Moran said.
â€œOn the other hand, it cannot be tolerated that people use guns or imitation guns while doing a robbery.â€
He imposed a five year sentence and suspended the final two years.
â€œIt would be unjust to impose the prescriptive minim um of five years,â€ the judge observed.