Convicted killer held pregnant woman up with 23-inch knife during robbery

The man was finally captured after gardaí chased him over ten garden walls
The man was finally captured after gardaí chased him over ten garden walls

A convicted killer who held a pregnant woman at knife point during a petrol station robbery has been sentenced to six years in prison with three suspended.

Derek O’Keeffe (39) of Derrypark, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery in three different petrol stations over four days in November 2013.

His 36 previous convictions include manslaughter, possession of a syringe containing blood, assault causing harm, escape from custody and robbery.

The court heard O’Keeffe stole cash from a Maxol Garage on Tymon Road, Tallaght in Dublin on November 23, 2013.

Two days later he attempted to rob Discount Fuels on Fortunestown Road in Tallaght and took cash from a Topaz on Greenhills Road, Tallaght on November 27.

Over the course of four days O’Keeffe threatened to stab a security guard with a syringe he claimed to have and grabbed a worker and told to him to "open the till or he was dead".

He was finally captured after gardaí chased him over ten garden walls on November 27.

Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, told the court that Anna Zajac was working on the till in the Topaz on Greenhills Road when O’Keeffe came up to her holding a 23-inch, jagged-edged knife.

He warned her not to press the panic button and forced her to open two tills which he stole cash from.

In her victim impact statement, she said that after the robbery she felt “emotionally destroyed”, was afraid to go home after dark and was concerned for her unborn child after consistent panic attacks.

Judge Patricia Ryan imposed partially suspended concurrent sentences on all of the robberies, backdating these to when O'Keeffe went into custody in November 2013.

She noted that reports suggest O'Keeffe, who works as a gym instructor in Cloverhill Prison, has dealt with his addictions and is of excellent behaviour.

Kieran Kelly BL, defending, submitted that his client intended to return to his partner on the Isle Of Man, where he had a job waiting for him on his release.

Garda Simon Whelan gave evidence that gardaí chased O’Keeffe over ten garden walls before he was tackled and apprehended in a back garden.

Just two days earlier, O’Keeffe told a security guard he had a syringe and threatened to stab the man with it during a failed attempt to rob a sum of money from Discount Fuels on November 25.

On November 23, 2013 O’Keeffe was armed with a knife when he grabbed a worker in the Maxol Garage on Tymon Road and told him to “open the till or he was dead”.

O’Keeffe was successfully identified using CCTV footage and DNA samples on items he had handed over to cashiers before he robbed them.

Mr Kelly earlier told the court that O’Keeffe was heavily addicted to drugs at the time and robbed the cash to pay for them.

He added that two of O’Keeffe’s eight brothers and his mother died in the lead up to the attacks and this tipped him over the edge.