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Drug addict robbed Dublin Post Office with €2 toy gun

CourtsBy Sunday World
The terrifying incident took place in Frascati Shopping Centre
The terrifying incident took place in Frascati Shopping Centre

A drug addict who robbed the Post Office at the Frascati Shopping Centre with a €2 toy gun has lost an appeal against the severity of his seven year prison sentence.

Jonathon Duffy (33), with an address at Kilclare Crescent, in Tallaght, Dublin 24, had pleaded guilty to robbing Blackrock Post Office, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery, the unlawful seizure of a vehicle and attempted unlawful seizure of another vehicle on April 16, 2013.

He was sentenced at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to seven years imprisonment by Judge Mary Ellen Ring on May 26, 2014.

Dismissing Duffy's sentence appeal today, Mr Justice George Birmingham said Duffy had entered the Post Office, placed his arm around a woman's neck and waved what appeared to be a gun around. 

The woman was released when approximately €3,000 in €20 notes was handed over.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Duffy stuffed these into a hold-all bag and attempted to stop cars upon fleeing.

Gardaí were alerted and made their way at speed. As a result of information coming from bystanders, attention switched towards a Dublin Bus behind which, a woman was screaming.

She had been sitting in traffic when she became conscious of a man being chased by security staff. He came to the passenger door of her vehicle, got in and told her to drive but because of traffic, made little progress.

He told her he had to get away and threatened to kill her, the judge said.

The car required not only a key to start but a push button also. “The miscreant didn't realise that,” the judge said and the car was surrounded. Gardaí had considerable difficulty in extracting him from the car.

The woman whose car had been seized described it as “one of the most frightening and traumatic” events in her life.

There had been an earlier incident, Mr Justice Birmingham said when another female driver was confronted. He told her to get out but she honked the horn and kept moving with the car door open.

This woman had formed the view that the gun was not real, the judge said.

Duffy told Garda Andrew Doyle that he had bought a toy gun for two euro and decided to commit the robbery because he was spending €50 a day on tablets.

He had 35 previous convictions including 10 for robbery, all recorded in the Circuit Court

This offence was committed 11 days after he had been temporarily released from prison.

Duffy was the only member of a large family who had ever been in trouble, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

He left school aged 13 but had become involved in substance abuse from the age of seven.

His barrister, Justin McQuade BL, estimated that from the time Duffy was 13-years-old, the maximum amount of time he had spent out of custody was six months.

Ahead of sentencing in January 2014, Judge Mary Ellen Ring released Duffy on bail in order that he would attend Coolmine Therapeutic Community. However, he was unable to continue and he subsequently surrendered himself.

Mr McQuade submitted that by the following May, when Duffy came to be sentenced, the Circuit Court judge lost sight of the fact that Duffy's desire to reform was still live.

An incentive to rehabilitate should have been provided at the end of the sentence, Mr McQuade submitted.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the offence was very serious and was committed by an offender with a very significant and directly relevant prior record.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court was unable to identify an error in principle and accordingly dismissed the appeal.