Man who previously set himself on fire outside Dail Eireann jailed for violent robbery

Dail Eireann
Dail Eireann

A Moroccan man who previously set himself on fire outside Dáil Éireann to protest at his residency application has been jailed for a violent robbery.

During the late night assault Hoummada El Habri (44) knocked Damien O'Brien to the ground before kicking him unconscious. The Moroccan native then stole the victim's mobile phone, a wrist watch worth €300 and €70 in cash.

El Habri of Wolseley Street, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Mr O'Brien at Adair Lane, Dublin city on October 25, 2014.

He has 16 previous convictions including theft, handling stolen property and robbery.

Judge Melanie Greally said that El Habri came to this country to improve his situation lawfully and to work and this was frustrated by his own medical issues.

She said because of financial adversity he resorted to stealing on a low level. She said none of these were excuses for his behaviour.

She suspended the last 18 months of a three-year prison sentence on condition that he leave the State within 14 days of release and not return for ten years.

David Staunton BL, defending, said his client had become so desperate about his application for residency here that he was involved in an act of self-immolation outside the Dáil.

The victim told gardai that he remembered El Habri coming rushing at him with his hands up before pushing him and knocking him to the ground.

El Habri kicked him in the head up to five times before the victim lost consciousness.

"He attacked me like a savage," Mr O'Brien said.

Garda David Geraghty told the court that CCTV showed El Habri stealing the phone and watch from the victim.

Mr Staunton said his client was deeply remorseful for his actions.

Declan Brennan