Portlaoise man jailed for ‘nasty’ knifepoint robbery

A PORTLAOISE man who robbed a taxi driver at knifepoint to clear a drug debt, leaving the injured party with nightmares after the incident, has been given a three-year sentence with the last year suspended.

A PORTLAOISE man who robbed a taxi driver at knifepoint to clear a drug debt, leaving the injured party with nightmares after the incident, has been given a three-year sentence with the last year suspended.

Justin Greene, 73 O’Moore Place, Portlaoise, was convicted of robbery and the production of an article, at Triogue Manor, Portlaoise, on November 7, 2011.

Evidence in the case was given at Portlaoise Circuit Court in January of this year by Sgt James Phelan, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly. The court heard that Greene put a knife to the taxi driver’s face, causing a 1cm nick below the eye. He then grabbed the driver’s money bag and fled the scene.

When arrested, Greene told the gardaí that he had a drug debt he needed to deal with and claimed he had been threatened earlier that day.

Sgt Phelan read from the injured party’s statement, in which the taxi driver said he suffered from nightmares after the incident.

When Greene appeared back before the circuit court last week, Judge Hunt noted that there was “not a great probation report” on the defendant.

Defence for Greene, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick admitted that she had “struggled” with her client’s report, however she said that Greene had entered an early plea and at 21, is still a relatively young man.

“All is not lost,” she said.

“He pleaded guilty, but beyond that there isn’t much in it,” replied the judge. “I’m trying hard to find something by way of mitigation.”

Judge Hunt said this was “a very nasty sort of incident”, which had left the injured party with nightmares. The injured party has since given up driving a taxi.

Judge Hunt noted that Greene had a number of previous convictions.

“He’s not prepared, or is unable to amend his lifestyle,” the judge said. “It’s unfortunate, but I’m left with no choice.”

On the charge of robbery, the judge imposed a three year sentence, but suspended the last year for 12 months on Greene’s own bond of €300, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. He must remain under the supervision of the probation services for 12 months post-release. The charge of production of an article was taken into consideration.