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Brother of murder victim who went on drug-fuelled crime spree in west Dublin locked up

A number of the incidents took place on the Old Nangor Road
A number of the incidents took place on the Old Nangor Road

A man whose brother was murdered in a “barbaric” fashion six years ago has received a partly suspended sentence for robbing seven women during a string of crimes carried out in west Dublin.

Amir Essalhi (32) targeted three of the women while they were sitting in their cars by jumping in and grabbing their handbags. He also robbed a pharmacy while armed with a knife and a tanning salon while armed with a spoon which he pretended was a knife.

Essalhi, with an address in Millbrook Ave, Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six counts of robbery during a drug-fuelled crime spree in Clondalkin, west Dublin in April and May last year. He also pleaded guilty to robbing a woman's handbag in Clondalkin on May 16, 2015.

The court heard Essalhi carried out the offences to feed his heroin addiction. Defence counsel Gerardine Small BL said he was suffering from drug withdrawal at the time. Ms Small said Essalhi and his family had suffered the “absolutely barbaric and horrific” murder of his brother a number of years ago.

Father-of-five Adil Essalhi was stabbed and battered to death at Tyrrellstown, Co Dublin in 2011 before his body was burned and left in a ditch.

Judge Cormac Quinn suspended the last two years of a four a half year sentence. He ordered that Essalhi engage in victim awareness work and in residential drug treatment .

He noted that the attacks were very distressing and frightening for the victims and that in some of them Essalhi got into the car of the victim.

Garda Brendan Crawford told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Essalhi walked into a pharmacy in Clondalkin on April 26 last year and selected some perfumes before threatening the woman behind the till with an eight-inch kitchen knife. He made off with about €80 in cash and the perfumes.

On May 12, 2016, Essalhi jumped into a woman's car while she was stopped at the Old Nangor Road in Clondalkin. When the woman threw the car keys out of the car and fled, Essalhi made off with her handbag containing €50 and her mobile phone.

Four days later, on May 16 last year, Essalhi approached a woman as she was walking home to her apartment on Old Nangor Road. He threatened her with a “rusty knife” before taking her handbag.

On May 20, 2016, Essalhi targeted a woman as she left Clondalkin post office, following her to her car and getting into the back seat. A struggle ensued, during which Essalhi punched the woman to the back of the head before taking her purse.

A passer-by chased him and managed to retrieve the woman's property, Gda Crawford said. The woman suffered a broken finger as a result of the scuffle.

On the same day, Essalhi again targeted a woman who had stopped her car at the yield sign on Old Nangor Road. He got into the passenger seat and managed to grab her handbag, injuring the woman's hand in the process.

The stolen handbag contained a gold bracelet belonging to the victim's mother which had great sentimental value, the court heard.

The following day, Essalhi entered a tanning salon in Clondalkin holding a spoon so it resembled a “small knife” the court heard.

A female worker handed over €219 in cash from the till. Essalhi also pleaded guilty to robbing a woman's handbag in May 2015.

Victim impact statements from five of the women were handed in to court. All of the offences occurred during the day, the court heard. Apart from the woman whose purse was retrieved by a passer-by, none of the stolen property was recovered, Gda Crawford said.

Essalhi has 43 previous convictions but none for robbery.

Judge Quinn said that he was giving him credit for early pleas of guilty and his co-operation with investigating gardaí. He also said he was taking into account the fact that he now appeared to be drug free according to testing by the Probation Service.