Armed thief chased off by shopkeeper

A 21-YEAR-old Mountmellick man with 23 previous convictions who was chased from a local shop by the owner after he tried to rob the shop at knife-point has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Stephen Brophy, Hendy Flats, Pearse Street, Mountmellick, was charged with attempted robbery and the possession of a knife, at O’Hanlon’s Shop, O’Moore Street, Mountmellick, on April 20 last year.

Garda John Paul O’Brien, led by State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, gave evidence that Brophy entered the shop with a jumper pulled over his face and waving a knife.

Garda O’Brien said there were a number of elderly people in the store at the time. The shopkeeper hit the panic alarm and then picked up a baton to defend himself. Brophy fled the shop, but the shopkeeper was able to identify him and he was arrested the next day.

In interview with gardaí, Brophy admitted the offence and said the weapon he used was a steak knife.

Garda O’Brien told the court that the shopkeeper knows Brophy’s family and he did not want to make an injured party statement.

“He was fairly robust in dealing with it himself,” remarked Judge Tony Hunt.

Among Brophy’s 23 previous convictions are drugs offences, thefts, public order and driving offences, and assaults. The court heard that there are also further charges to be brought against him.

Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said Brophy is now managing his addiction issues and is under the care of a psychiatrist. She said he is “a work in progress” and is liaising with various organisations for help.

Judge Hunt described it as “an impulsive and unpredictable offence”, one which was no doubt frightening for the other people in the shop.

“The robbery wasn’t planned, it’s down the scale, but the effects are serious. I can’t see how a non-custodial sentence is suitable,” said the judge. He also noted that the probation report on Brophy indicated “a very high risk of reoffending”.

Ms Fitzpatrick said that as there were a number of unknown factors concerning Brophy’s psychiatric problems, perhaps the best thing would be to adjourn the case.

“I wonder if we’re only postponing the evil day?” replied the judge. “On balance, it’s too serious to leave hanging.”

Judge Hunt imposed a sentence of two and a half years on the robbery charge, but he suspended the last year for 12 months on condition that Brophy be of good behaviour for that period. Brophy must enter into a probation bond and remain under the supervision of the probation services, and he must also attend with the addiction services and an anger management course. He must also remain at an agreed address upon release and keep all his appointments.

The judge also imposed a nine-month sentence, concurrent, on the charge of producing a knife.


Back to the top of the page