Portlaoise man pleads guilty to attempted robbery

Plea changed after day of legal arguments ahead of trial

Court - Smashed garda patrol car outside Portlaoise courthouse

A Portlaoise man due to stand trial for attempted robbery and false imprisonment has today (Friday, June 16) changed his plea and pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of four men in Mountrath.

At Portlaoise Circuit Court, Simon O'Donoghue, 7 Old Knockmay Road, Portlaoise, faced four counts of attempted robbery, and four counts of false imprisonment, at Knockanina, Mountrath, on June 29, 2015.

When he was arraigned on Wednesday, June 14, he entered pleas of not guilty to all eight charges.

Donal Keane, State prosecutor, said there were four civilian witnesses for the State and a number of garda witnesses, with the trial expected to last up to three days.

However, a full day of legal arguments took place yesterday (Thursday, June 15), before the commencement of the trial. These arguments took place in the absence of the jury.

After hearing all submissions, Judge Keenan Johnson this morning (Friday, June 16) ruled against defence for the accused. Following this, the accused changed his plea.

Mr Keane said that the State was willing to accept pleas of guilty to the four counts of attempted robbery. It will enter nolle prosequi on the four charges of false imprisonment, meaning the State will not prosecute these matters.

The accused was arraigned again, this time entering pleas of guilty to the four counts of attempted robbery, against four named men.

Judge Keenan Johnson told the 12-person jury that, following an entire day of legal arguments, they were no longer required.

The matter was adjourned to November 28 for sentencing. Victim impact statements on the four injured parties were requested, and a probation report on the accused.

The accused was directed to enter into a peace bond of €500, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. He was also directed to have no contact with the injured parties or their families, nor must any of his associates. The accused gave a sworn undertaking to abide by these conditions.

Judge Johnson warned the accused that if the court received any report of the accused attempting to intimidate the victims or their families it would be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The accused was released on bail, with conditions that he sign on daily at Portlaoise Garda Station, and he observe a curfew of 11pm to 8am. An amendment to the curfew was granted for August 12, when the accused is getting married.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.