Heroin addict
assaulted 65-yr old woman

A HEROIN addict who assaulted a 65-year-old woman during the robbery of a handbag has been remanded in custody for sentencing.

A HEROIN addict who assaulted a 65-year-old woman during the robbery of a handbag has been remanded in custody for sentencing.

The recent Circuit Court in Portlaoise heard that the woman sustained such a serious injury that she was unable to attend her own mother’s funeral, after Michael Gleeson, of Morette, Emo, attempted to snatch her handbag in a public place in Portlaoise on October 8, 2011.

Detective Garda Pat O’Donovan gave evidence that the injured party and a man also in his 60s were making their way home at 2.30pm, when Gleeson ran after them and grabbed the handbag from around her shoulder. The woman was swung around and thrown on the ground a yard or two away, before the strap on the bag broke. The woman’s friend grabbed the bag back from Gleeson and the defendant ran away.

Det O’Donovan said that the woman was able to give a distinct description of her assailant and Gleeson was subsequently arrested. He was interviewed four times and denied the charges, but on the fifth interview he made admissions. Det O’Donovan explained that Gleeson’s brother had “called to the garda station periodically” and following “a three-way conversation”, Gleeson made his admissions in the last interview. The detective said that Gleeson was well known to gardaí and had been “a chronic heroin addict” for years.

A victim impact statement was read out. The court heard that the injured party suffered bruising and a hairline fracture to her coccyx, which left her requiring medication for some time after. The woman said she still feels quite scared and is unable to leave the house. She said she had not been able to walk for three months and felt humiliated having to use a walking frame. The woman said that she could not visit her mother, who subsequently died, and she did not get a chance to say goodbye.

“With the likes of him roaming the streets, the right to leave the house has been taken away,” she said.

Det Donovan confirmed that any time he had spoken to the woman, “she never looked comfortable”. He described her as “one of the most active 65-year-olds I know” who used to cycle every day, but she has now become a prisoner in her own home. The detective said that the biggest blow for the woman was being unable to attend her own mother’s funeral.

Defence for Gleeson, Mr Colm Hennessy said that at the height of addiction his client had been on four bags of heroin a day. He told the court that Gleeson was looking for forgiveness for what he had done.

Judge Anthony Hunt said it was a serious crime and he ordered a probation report and for Gleeson to submit to urine analysis. Gleeson was remanded in custody at Cloverhill prison until January 24 next year.