Jailed for robbery with large knife

A FORMER Portarlington man has been sentenced to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for threatening a young female shop assistant with a knife during an armed robbery.

A FORMER Portarlington man has been sentenced to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for threatening a young female shop assistant with a knife during an armed robbery.

21-year-old Andrew O’Neill, originally from Portarlington but now living in Letterkenny, was charged with robbery at the Rosecourt Filling Station, Port, on August 28, 2011.

O’Neill entered the filling station with his face concealed and bearing a large kitchen knife. The female shop assistant was later able to give a description of the accused to gardaí, saying that the man was “very skinny, with his clothes hanging off him”.

The woman said that O’Neill threatened her with the knife and said, “Give me the money - all of it”.

After receiving money from the till, O’Neill ran from the premises.

€155 was taken and none of the money was recovered. The shop assistant, who was 21 at the time, was left in a very shocked state and stopped working at the filling station shortly after.

When O’Neill was arrested, he denied the robbery to gardaí.

O’Neill originally appeared on the charges before the circuit court in January, where Judge Tony Hunt gave him a chance to engage with the probation service.

When 21-year-old O’Neill appeared back before the circuit court last week, his solicitor, Mr Colm Hennessy said that his client’s heroin addiction went back to when he was 17 and he has made attempts to secure a place with Coote Street addiction services in Portlaoise. Mr Hennessy asked whether, in that context, Judge Hunt would consider adjourning the case to May 3.

However, Judge Hunt remarked that O’Neill had committed a robbery with a large kitchen knife and an element of a custodial sentence was inevitable.

“This kind of thing is serious, a big kitchen knife was brandished,” said Judge Hunt. “This is a serious indictable matter... it was an inexcusable offence.”

The judge imposed a three-year sentence, but suspended the last 18 months for two years on O’Neill’s own bond of €300.

He must keep the peace for two years after his release and remain under the supervision of the probation service for 12 months.

The judge also recommended aftercare for O’Neill upon his release.