A Portlaoise man who committed two armed robberies within a week, so frightening a taxi driver with a knife that the injured party could not even bring himself to report it to the gardaí, has been sentenced to three and half years in jail.
Patrick Dwane (26), previously of Mountain View Square, Portlaoise, was convicted of two counts of robbery, and two counts of the production of an article.
When the case first came before Portlaoise Circuit Court last November, Detective Garda John Paul O’Brien gave evidence that Dwane produced a knife and threatened to pierce a taxi driver’s throat, at Portlaoise's Top Square on December 22, 2015. The taxi driver handed over €20.
Det O’Brien said that the taxi driver had not reported the robbery due to fear.
On December 27, 2015, three males entered the Carry Out Off Licence on the Mountmellick Road, Portlaoise, two armed with knives. They concealed their identities and demanded money from the two staff members working, with over €1,000 handed over as well as packets of cigarettes or tobacco to the value of €250, and a bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum.
After viewing CCTV footage, the accused was identified by Det O’Brien.
On January 4, 2016, Dwane contacted the gardaí himself and inquired after the taxi driver. At this point, the gardaí knew nothing about this robbery, and Dwane was arrested.
Det O'Brien said that Dwane was a heroin addict at the time, and had eight previous convictions, including robbery and burglary offences.
Victim impact statements were given to the State by the employees of the off licence.
One of the men said he was scarred for life from the incident. The other man told the gardaí: “I never felt fear like it and I never want to feel it again.”
The taxi driver who was robbed also made a statement, saying he was frightened on the night and for a long time after.
The matter was adjourned last November, and when the case returned to the circuit court this week, Judge Keenan Johnson said: "This case illustrates all too graphically the stranglehold that the consumption of illicit drugs and excessive consumption of alcohol has on society."
He said the court was obliged to send out a clear message that people who engage in this type of activity will suffer a severe sentence, so as to ensure that others are deterred from doing the same.
For the robbery of the off licence, Judge Johnson imposed a six-year sentence, but suspended the last two years and six months, on condition the accused enter a four-year peace bond; he submit himself for probation supervision for two years; he complete residential treatment within two years of his release from prison; and he provide urinalysis.
For the robbery of the taxi driver, the judge imposed a five-year sentence, to run concurrent, with the final 18 months suspended on the same conditions.
The sentence was backdated to the date the accused went into custody, January 5, 2016.
A co-accused in the robbery of the off licence, Kevin Moore (41), O'Moore Place, Portlaoise, also appeared before the court recently and was remanded in custody to this Friday, March 10.