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Heroin addict jailed for hijacking car with baby on the back seat

Coakley was sentenced to three years imprisonment by Judge Desmond Hogan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Coakley was sentenced to three years imprisonment by Judge Desmond Hogan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

A heroin addict who hijacked the car of a lady with her child on the back seat has been sent to jail after failing “in spectacular fashion” to accept an opportunity afforded to him by the Court of Appeal in March.

Christopher Coakley (23), with an address at Empress Place, Dublin 1, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful seizure of a vehicle at Mountjoy Square on August 5 2012.

He was sentenced to three years imprisonment by Judge Desmond Hogan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on February 25 2013.

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully appealed his sentence in the Court of Appeal earlier this year.

The court heard from Martina Baxter BL, for the DPP, that Coakley had hijacked the car of a lady with her child on the back seat in August 2012 on the day of an All-Ireland football quarter final between Donegal and Kerry.

Coakley has 92 previous convictions, has been a heroin addict since he was 13-years-old and had been in custody most of the time since he was 14-years-old, the court heard.

Following its finding, the Court of Appeal adjourned sentencing until Monday on condition that he would go from prison to Coolmine Therapeutic Community for Alcohol and Drugs Services.

However, four days later he was refused admission to Coolmine for having intoxicants in his system and was now in custody for subsequent offences.

His barrister, Lorcan Staines BL, said today that Coakley had “failed in spectacular fashion” to take the opportunity afforded to him by the court.

If Coakley had taken the chance afforded to him, Mr Staines said he would not have had drugs in his system when he was refused admission to Coolmine on April 1.

Mr Staines said Coakley had seen the errors of his ways but his level of maturity was insufficient for him to follow through.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said it was unfortunate that Coakley had not availed of the opportunity given to him in March.

He said the sentencing judge erred in making his three year sentence for carjacking concurrent to a previous sentence. He effectively did not serve any additional punishment for the crime he had committed.

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, said it was appropriate to impose a new three year sentence on Coakley to run from the expiration of the previous sentence.

In March, Mr Justice Ryan said the court was minded to give Coakley the opportunity that Mr Staines envisaged, in other words that he should have the opportunity of taking up the position in Coolmine.

Mr Justice Ryan remanded him in custody subject to being released into the custody of a representative of Coolmine and that he be brought back to court on July 20 for sentence.

If Coakley left Coolmine, Mr Justice Ryan said, the authorities are to be notified, the matter will be dealt with appropriately and “the court will not take a lenient view in those circumstances”.

“Thanks very much,” Coakley said at the time.

Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, said nobody would be “more delighted than the members of the court if you take that chance”.

Ruaidhrí Giblin