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Addict "in fear of his life" robbed the same employee twice at a Dublin bookies

Paul Heaney robbed the same Paddy Power on two occasions (File)
Paul Heaney robbed the same Paddy Power on two occasions (File)

A addict who was “in fear of his life” due to his drug debts robbed the same bookmakers twice while the same staff member was working there, a court has heard.

Paul Heaney (33) threatened the woman with a large kitchen knife in the first robbery and pointed an imitation firearm at the terrified victim during the second offence later the same year.

Heaney, of Michael Mallin House, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robberies of Paddy Power Bookmakers, Meath Street, on January 3 and October 28, 2016. He also admitted possession of a realistic imitation firearm at the premises on October 28, 2016.

The court heard Heaney, who has 47 previous convictions, was under the influence of drugs at the time of the robberies and did not know it was the same woman in both offences. He told gardai he feared he would be shot due to his debts and that he was “shaking” as he carried out the robbery.

He wrote a letter of apology in which he said had no intention of hurting the woman and just wanted to get the money. He said he was in fear that he or his family would be hurt. He said he hoped she would forgive him.

Judge Karen O'Connor adjourned finalisation of the case until October 20, 2017 to allow a probation report be prepared.

Garda Paul Geraghty told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that Heaney carried out the first robbery while armed with a large knife. He demanded money from a female staff member who threw a handful of notes at him. He ran out and she pressed the panic button. A total of €1,200 was taken.

A customer noted the robber had dropped a set of keys with a picture of a child on it. This was handed over to gardai, who later arrested Heaney.

Heaney told gardai he had got into debt over his drug use and was “in fear of his life.” He said the robbery was a last resort and had not wanted to do it. He did not remember the robbery.

Garda Geraghty said Heaney returned to the same bookmakers the following October, while on bail, armed with an imitation firearm. The same member of staff was working and said Heaney, who had his face covered, pointed the gun at her and demanded money. He fled with €250 on this occasion.

Gardai were alerted and arrested Heaney, who was still wearing the same clothing, nearby.

Heaney told gardai he had got into a “bit of debt” and feared he was going to be shot. He told gardai he had bought the imitation firearm. He apologised for frightening the woman.

He said he he felt he had no choice and told gardai he was shaking as he went into the shop. None of the money from either of the robberies was recovered

Rebecca Smith BL, defending, said Heaney had been free of substances for a number of months since going into custody, She asked Judge O'Connor to accept the letter of apology was sincere and reflected his shame and remorse.

Ms Smith said Heaney had a difficult upbringing but was close to his mother who was now elderly and has significant health difficulties. She said Heaney started using cannabis as a 16-year-old and developed an addiction to crack cocaine, tablets and heroin.

She said he had been frequently in and out of custody during his life but now wished to move forward in his life and go into residential treatment. She said he had been reducing his methadone intake and using his time in custody productively.