Portlaoise man jailed for robbing woman at derelict site during Storm Ophelia

Portlaoise man jailed for robbing woman at derelict site during Storm Ophelia

A Portlaoise man has been sentenced to ten months in jail for assaulting and robbing a woman who was stranded in Portlaoise on the day of Storm Ophelia.

At last week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court, Patrick Kerry (19), Hillview Drive, Knockmay, Portlaoise, was charged with theft and assault.

Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on October 16, 2017, the day of Storm Ophelia, the injured party went to Portlaoise Garda Station to inquire about getting a bus. She spoke to a garda in the station, but the accused was present in the public office and overheard her conversation.

He followed her out of the station and directed her to the old Centrepoint premises, a derelict building on the Mountrath Road. Once there, the accused robbed her of her handbag and phone. He hit her twice with her own handbag and also with the hubcap of a car.

The injured party was in grave fear for her life and ran away, flagging down a passing car.

The accused had 15 previous convictions. He is currently serving a ten-month prison sentence for robbing two young people of their mobile phones.

When the case first came before the court in February, defence for the accused, Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick said her client had a letter of apology. The matter was put back for a victim impact statement.

When the case returned to court last week, Sgt Kirby said that the injured party was satisfied with the letter of apology and did not wish to come to court.

Ms Fitzpatrick said her client had spent two months in custody already on the matter. She said that her client threw the hubcap at the injured party, but it landed at her feet and didn’t strike her.

Judge Catherine Staines said it was an appalling crime. The poor woman who had been stranded in the storm was followed and robbed and assaulted.

Saying she had to mark the seriousness of the offence, Judge Staines imposed a ten-month sentence on the theft charge, consecutive, with the assault charge taken into consideration.

Ms Fitzpatrick asked would the court give him credit for the two months already served, but Judge Staines warned that she could have imposed 18 months. Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal.