Woman suffered ‘terrible
experience’ at hands of man

AN Emo man who assaulted a 65-year-old woman during the robbery of a handbag has been sentenced to four years in prison, with the last 18 months suspended.

AN Emo man who assaulted a 65-year-old woman during the robbery of a handbag has been sentenced to four years in prison, with the last 18 months suspended.

Michael Gleeson, of Morette, Emo, attempted to snatch the woman’s handbag in a public place in Portlaoise on October 8, 2011, as the injured party and a man also in his 60s were making their way home. The woman was swung around and thrown on the ground, before the strap on the bag broke. The woman’s friend grabbed the bag back from Gleeson and the defendant ran away. The woman sustained such a serious injury that she was subsequently unable to attend her own mother’s funeral.

Gleeson pleaded guilty to the offence at the circuit court in Portlaoise last October and was remanded in custody for a probation report. At last week’s sitting of the circuit court, defence for Gleeson, Mr Colm Hennessy said that there was quite a positive report on his client before the court.

Mr Hennessy said that Gleeson has been using his time in custody productively and is now drug free.

“This is the longest stint of being drug free he’s managed,” said Mr Hennessy, adding that the assault on the woman represented a low point for Gleeson.

Mr Hennessy said that Gleeson had been on four bags of heroin a day and he is going to need ongoing supervision for his addiction.

Judge Tony Hunt said that the assault on the 65-year-old had been an appalling offence and he asked where Gleeson intended to reside when released. Mr Hennessy replied that Gleeson will be going back to live with his parents in Emo.

Judge Hunt noted Gleeson’s plea of guilty, but he said that the attack had a significant effect on the injured party.

The woman made a victim impact statement, in which she said she suffered bruising and a hairline fracture to her coccyx, which left her requiring medication for some time after.

The woman said she still feels quite scared and is unable to leave the house. She said she had not been able to walk for three months and felt humiliated having to use a walking frame. The woman said that she could not visit her mother, who subsequently died, and she did not get a chance to say goodbye.

“With the likes of him roaming the streets, the right to leave the house has been taken away,” she said.

Judge Hunt remarked that the woman and other citizens of her age are entitled to leave their home without hindrance and he described Gleeson’s actions as “entirely unacceptable”.

“I understand the depths of deprivation heroin use causes,” said Judge Hunt. “However, a decent, active, upstanding citizen has had a terrible experience at the hands of Mr Gleeson.”

The judge imposed a four-year sentence, backdated to when Gleeson went into custody, October 16, and suspended the last 18 months for two years from Gleeson’s date of release.

Gleeson must enter a bond of €300 to keep the peace for two years and he must engage with the probation service for 12 months after his release. He was also ordered not to enter the area of Portlaoise.