Left open prison and robbed woman with knife

A Ballinakill man serving a sentence for drugs absconded from an open prison and returned to Portlaoise where he robbed a woman at knifepoint on Christmas Eve.

A Ballinakill man serving a sentence for drugs absconded from an open prison and returned to Portlaoise where he robbed a woman at knifepoint on Christmas Eve.

Arising from this, Adden Campion, 5 Chapel Street, Ballinakill, was last week given a four-year sentence, with two years of that suspended, at the Portlaoise Circuit Court.

The robbery was committed on Christmas Eve last year, at Shoprite, Borris Road, Portlaoise, when Campion stole €280 after he entered the shop with his face covered and armed with a knife.

Campion was serving a five year sentence for drug offences and had been transferred to Shelton Abbey, an open prison in County Wicklow. He absconded from Shelton Abbey on December 9 that year and was unlawfully at large when he committed the offence.

Evidence was given by State prosecutor, Mr Desmond Dockery, and Garda Sgt James Phelan.

The shop assistant was by the Lotto machine when she looked up and saw someone wearing dark gloves. The man told her to give him the money and at first she thought he was joking, until she saw the large kitchen knife in his hand. He kept saying “Give me the money” and the woman told him to calm down. She managed to open the cash till on the second go, and at that point the man’s scarf fell down revealing dark hair. After he left the shop, the woman pushed the panic button.

“She thought he was going to stab her and was waving the knife around,” said Sgt Phelan.

CCTV footage was obtained from the scene by Garda JP O’Brien, with Garda Gerard Doolan investigating. Garda Doolan identified Adden Campion from the CCTV, and later met Campion. Campion, however, gave a false name and Garda Doolan didn’t realise it was him. Campion later turned himself in to the Midlands Prison on December 30.

Defence for Campion was Mr Rory Hanniffy, who said 27-year-old Campion had been “blighted for years with a serious drug addiction”.

Mr Hanniffy told the court that Campion had built up a drug debt and had been ordered by certain individuals to leave Shelton Abbey and return to the Midlands Prison with drugs. However, once on the outside he began abusing drugs again himself.

Campion himself took the witness box, to tell the court he owed money to people for drugs.

“They got in contact with me family, they threatened them. I panicked and I left Shelton Abbey,” he said. “They wanted me to bring back drugs to the Midlands Prison. I went back to Portlaoise and started taking heroin again.”

Judge Petria McDonnell imposed a four year sentence, to commence from July 13 of this year, the date Campion was arraigned on this offence. The judge suspended two years of this sentence for two years, on condition Campion engage with the probation services to stay drug-free.