A Portlaoise man who was part of a three-man group who robbed an off licence with knives has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison, with the final two years suspended.
At the recent sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court, Kevin Moore (41), with an address listed at O’Moore Place, Portlaoise, was charged with robbery and production of an article.
Detective Garda John Paul O’Brien gave evidence, along with State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly, that on December 27, 2015, three males armed with knives entered the Carry Out Off Licence on the Mountmellick Road in Portlaoise.
The men had their faces covered and were carrying bags, and they threatened the two male staff assistants.
Det O’Brien said that Moore stood at the door of the off licence with a knife in his hand to terrify anyone who came in during the robbery.
Det O’Brien said the staff were in “utter shock” by the incident.
The trio stole around €1,000 in cash, tobacco worth €102, and alcohol worth €21.49.
The robbers were identified from CCTV and on January 5, 2016, the accused was arrested.
He was interviewed by gardaí twice, making full admissions in the second interview after he was shown the CCTV footage.
Det O’Brien said that Moore was a Dublin native who had come to garda attention over the years.
He had 85 previous convictions, including thefts, drugs, public order, burglary and road traffic offences.
Mr Fennelly said that a lot of his offending related to alcohol and drugs, to which Det O’Brien said that the accused was using heroin and prescription tablets.
The accused was serving a five-month sentence on separate charges when he appeared in court. He committed the robbery while on district court bail.
Det O’Brien said that during a search of the accused’s home, €1,300 was found hidden in two socks and was seized by the gardaí.
Defence, barrister Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said that her client claimed the money had been saved up to repair damage to his money’s roof.
In relation to the robbery, she said that Moore wasn’t the main instigator of the three men involved.
Replied Det O’Brien: “It mightn’t have been his idea, but he was more than willing to participate. He was shouting orders at the other two in the shop.”
Judge Keenan Johnson said he wanted time to consider the matter, and remanded the accused in custody to the end of the circuit court sessions some ten days later.
When the case returned to the court on Friday, March 10, Judge Johnson noted that a victim impact statement by one of the staff members of the off licence had indicated the man was scared for his life during the robbery.
The man didn’t sleep on the night of the incident. Prior to the robbery he used to be a very trusting person, unfortunately as a consequence of the robbery he is no longer as trusting as he used to be and he hopes that his sense of trust and confidence will come back in time.
Judge Johnson noted that the other staff member had also suffered similar consequences and was extremely frightened by the experience.
The judge went on to say that this was the fourth case he had dealt with at the recent sittings of the circuit court concerning shops being robbed.
“It is not acceptable that shopkeepers and retailers should be subjected to this type of robbery,” he said, adding that the use of knives was common and very concerning.
“It is also clear that all of these robberies are perpetrated by people who are either out of their head on drugs or stealing to feed their drug habit,” said Judge Johnson.
The judge said the court was obliged to send out a clear message that people like the accused who engage in these crimes will suffer a severe sentence.
The judge imposed five years and six months’ imprisonment, with the final two years suspended for two years on condition the accused enter a peace bond; he remain under probation supervision for 18 months; and he remain free of alcohol and drugs for two years post release.
The sentence was to take effect upon the expiration of the current sentence Moore was serving.