Man took part in robbery armed with plastic knife

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A man who took part in a robbery of a Co Kildare off-licence, armed with what he said was a plastic McDonalds knife, has been given a three-year suspended sentence.

Emmet McAuley (31) was pursued on foot by the owner of the Celbridge shop while his co-accused, who was armed with a wheel-brace, was involved in an accident in the town in the get-away car.

McAuley, of Saint Finians Avenue, Lucan, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at Carry Out Off Licence, Main Street, Celbridge, on May 30, 2015. He has 22 previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan noted there had been no actual violence during the robbery and that McAuley had put up no resistance when he was caught and restrained by the shop owner.

He imposed a three-year sentence, which he suspended in full on strict conditions including that McAuley pay €1,000 over to the injured party.

Garda Gerard Guinan told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that there were no customers in the shop when McAuley's accomplice, armed with a wheel-brace, entered with his hood up and shouted at a member of staff to give him money.

The court heard McAuley, who appeared to have a knife in his hand, asked the staff member several times during the robbery if he was ok and appeared to be genuinely concerned.

The two robbers escaped with cash and cigarettes in the incident, which lasted about 60 seconds and was captured on CCTV.

McAuley was pursued by the shop owner towards the bridge in the town where he was restrained without putting up any fight. Cash and cigarettes were recovered.

His co-accused had been involved in an accident in the get-away car which was causing traffic problems in the town. McAuley was detained until gardai arrived and arrested him.

McAuley told gardai he had a plastic McDonalds knife in his hand during the robbery.

Gda Guinan agreed with Garrett Baker BL, defending, that McAuley was co-operative with gardai and fulsome in his admissions. McAuley apologised for his role in the robbery.

Gda Guinan agreed that it was not clear on the CCTV what McAuley had in his hand, the staff member had simply thought it was a knife but no knife was found.

Mr Baker said McAuley came from a good family and had turned to drugs following a number of tragic deaths in his family. He was using heroin by the age of 18 and began to come to garda attention.

Counsel said McAuley had now completed a residential drug treatment program and was clean of drugs. He asked the court to allow him continue on this path of recovery.

Fiona Ferguson