Portlaoise man threatened couple with broken bottle

A PORTLAOISE man threatened a couple with a broken bottle in the street, during a robbery which left a 58-year-old man with a badly injured shoulder, and his wife in counselling.

A PORTLAOISE man threatened a couple with a broken bottle in the street, during a robbery which left a 58-year-old man with a badly injured shoulder, and his wife in counselling.

21-year-old Clive Greene appeared before the recent Portlaoise Circuit Court charged with three counts of robbery and one count of assault causing harm. The charges relate to two separate incidents on February 19 last year.

Garda Sharon Murray gave evidence that the first incident occurred at 7pm, when two males were exiting an off-licence in Portlaoise. Greene made threats toward both parties, one of whom was under 18 at the time. The two males ran away but Greene followed and an altercation ensued. During the struggle one of the males dropped a number of beer bottles, which Greene then took. The two males were also robbed of an MP3 player and a phone.

Garda Murray said the injured parties were quite intimidated by Greene.

Later that day, a couple were approached by Greene on the Mountmellick Road. Greene threatened them with a broken bottle and shouted, “Give it to me.” Garda Murray said this referred to the lady’s handbag. When Green attempted to grab the bag, the lady’s husband tried to defend his wife and he fell, damaging his shoulder. The court heard that there was €1,000 in cash in the handbag and a number of personal items. The bag and contents were subsequently recovered when Greene was arrested, although the money was not.

Garda Murray read out victim impact statements. The two males robbed outside the off-licence experienced no physical effects, but both reported feeling nervous in public since the incident. One of the men “keeps his head down and checks his pockets when he sees a gang of people,” Garda Murray said.

In relation to the couple on the Mountmellick Road, Garda Murray said the 58-year-old man had to quit his job because of the injury to his shoulder, which had been dislocated and suffered soft tissue damage. The man was in hospital six times and his arm was in a sling for a month. He used to be very handy around the house, but now has to employ someone to do work for him. Garda Murray said the man used to walk home but he now gets taxis as he is very nervous in public.

“He was a very fit looking man, he’d been to the gym, but all that’s stopped since the injury,” the garda said. Garda Murray went on to say the man’s wife had availed of counselling services since the robbery and will no longer walk home on her own.

“There’s been a huge change to her life and her family’s life,” said Garda Murray.

Garda Murray told the court that Greene has “a slight drug problem” and is trying to get off heroin. He has 13 previous convictions, including six thefts and one possession of a knife. There were also a number of public order charges.

Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick admitted her client’s drug addiction was more than slight.

“It’s a severe drug problem, he’s an addict,” she said, adding that Greene is in much better physical condition when he is in custody.

“He’s still in the grips of an addiction, he’s struggling with it,” she said.

Judge Tony Hunt remarked that the robbery of the couple was a very grave matter.

“For them to be going about their business and to be dealt with in this way deserves consequences,” he said. “A spell in custody is inevitable.”

Judge Hunt went on to say that Greene clearly needs help with his addiction.

“When he’s back on the outside it doesn’t do him any good,” said the judge.

Greene was remanded in custody to October 25 for a probation report and a governor’s report. He must also submit himself for urine analysis. Judge Hunt said that if the report is positive, he would fix a period of suspension in sentencing.