Homeless man who mugged student and burgled shops has case dismissed

Homeless man who mugged student and burgled shops has case dismissed

A homeless man who was out on a suspended sentence when he stole from shops has had his case dismissed because of the recent Constitutional ruling on suspended sentences.

In March 2013, Judge Patrick McCartan sentenced Karl O'Brien (24) to four years in prison with two suspended for the mugging of a UCD student in Dublin city centre.

O'Brien had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the robbery of Barry O'Sullivan on Dame Street on September 18, 2011.

Last December O'Brien pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to offences, including a minor assault and theft, committed in January 2015.

Garda Peter O'Brien told the court that O'Brien had stolen food from a shop in Dublin city centre and later hit the shopkeeper outside the shop.

As per the "section 99" legislation, parts of which were ruled unconstitutional on Tuesday, the District Court remanded O'Brien to the next sitting of the Circuit Court because he was serving a suspended sentence from that court.

In Tuesday's ruling, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty declared that parts of Section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 were unconstitutional. This section allowed the court to activate suspended portions of sentences if a person re-offended.

A number of cases appear before judges every day on the State's application to have previously-suspended sentences activated.

This morning, Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, told Judge McCartan that his instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions was that no order should be made in light of the recent decision.

O'Brien was in custody but was released as a result of the inability to re-activate the suspended sentence.

Gda O'Brien cautioned him to appear again at the District Court for sentencing on the more recent offences.

At his 2013 hearing the court heard that O'Brien had admitted to the mugging but said he had no memory of it as he was on a "two day bender" at the time. He had 20 previous convictions at the time.

The victim was walking along Dame Street on his way to a concert when he was dragged down a laneway by four men. The court heard that two of the men kept watch, while O'Brien and another man beat Mr O'Sullivan until he handed over his belongings.

The robbers took a Nokia phone, a wallet, a neck chain and €15 in cash before fleeing the scene. The total value of the stolen items was €155.

The re-activation case today was remanded on two occasions since December last.

In February, lawyers for O'Brien told the court he was doing well and Judge McCartan asked for the Probation Services to carry out an assessment.

Declan Brennan