Homeless man jailed for robbing school book shop and hotel

School Supply Centre
School Supply Centre

A homeless man who robbed a school book shop and a hotel with a scalpel has been jailed for two and a half years.

Peter Byrne (44) with a former address at Main Street, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery at School Supply Centre, Village Green, Tallaght and Abberley Hotel, Belgard Road, Tallaght on November 29 and 30, 2014.

Byrne told  Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he was ready to change after spending 26 years of his life in jail.  “I’m getting older and I haven’t seen much of outside, and the bit I did see I was drunk,” he said.

Judge Nolan said he believed Byrne’s desire to reform was sincere, “but I’m not sure if he has the fortitude to comply with that”. 

Noting his 91 previous convictions, including four previous robberies, burglary, theft and assault, Judge Nolan imposed a four year jail term and suspended the final 18 months.

The first of the two robberies occurred on the evening of November 29  in the School Supply Centre. An employee was preparing Christmas lights when he heard someone enter the shop.

Detectvie Garda Ciaran McGrath told Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that Byrne told the employee “this is a bit of a robbery” and that he had a knife. The employee opened the cash register for Byrne and he removed all the money, placed it in a plastic bag and left. He apologised on his way out.

The following day at 11.30 am, Byrne entered Abberley Hotel on Belgard Road and approached Sarah Brennan, who had just begun her shift at the front desk. He showed her a knife and asked for the money.  As he left he told her not to tell anyone or he would come back and harm her.

He was apprehended by gardaí nearby. A scalpel was found at the scene.  He admitted his involvement and apologised for his behavior.  He said he was living in a derelict house across the road from the hotel and wanted to get money for a deposit.

A victim impact statement from Ms Brennan was handed to the court.  Det Gda McGrath agreed with counsel that she had been very shook by the incident  and was now doing self defence courses.

Ciaran Kelly BL, defending,  said that Byrne had been accepted on a post release program run by Focus Ireland and had received good reports from the prison governor and education officer for his engagement.