Notorious Dublin criminal has sentence cut for possession of robbery cash

CourtsBy Sunday World
Robert Lawlor
Robert Lawlor

A notorious Dublin criminal jailed for possessing €3,420 covered in blue dye, which came from a cash box robbery, has had his jail time cut on appeal.

Robert Lawlor (31), of Grangemore Crescent, Donaghmede, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of stolen property at Belcamp Gardens in the capital on March 26, 2013.

Lawlor had originally been charged with robbery and handling stolen property but his plea to possession was accepted by prosecutors on a full facts basis.

He was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment by Judge Martin Nolan on July 27, 2015.

Lawlor successfully appealed his sentence today. The Court of Appeal set aside his original sentence and imposed a 36 month sentence with the final 12 months suspended.

Giving judgment Mr Justice George Birmingham said a robbery of a cash box occured in McDonald's Donaghmede, in Dublin on the morning of March 23, 2013. A firearm was believed to have been produced and €10,000 in cash was taken, the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham said a tracking device was used to locate the box which was found emptied in a field some distance away.

Three days later, Lawlor was noticed by gardaí in Belcamp Gardens and was seen to put a package into a letter box of a particular house he had no connection to. It appears he was attempting to evade the attention of gardaí, the judge said.

Cash covered in blue dye was recovered and it was established that the money had come from the cash box. He went on to plead guilty to possession of the sum of €3,420.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Lawlor had 125 previous convictions, the majority of which related to road traffic matters.

He also has convictions for drugs after being caught with more than €40,000 worth of cocaine back in 2004.

He received a seven-year sentence for that offence.

Lawlor also had links to ‘Micka’ Kelly, who was shot dead by the Real IRA in 2011.

In April 2015, he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment for possessing a stolen car and his barrister, Michael O'Higgins SC, made the point that had both offences been dealt with together, rather than separately, it might have enured to his benefit.

Mr O'Higgins further submitted that the divergence between 16 months and 32 months for the same offence was too wide and was effectively “a consecutive sentence by the back door”.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court saw some merit in the point about divergence being too wide.

The court had regard to the argument that Lawlor's co-accused, the person who plead guilty to “involvement in the robbery as a robber” received a sentence which was not significantly more severe than the sentence he received.

Furthermore, the sentencing court was told that Lawlor was keen to rehabilitate himself and had taken steps in that direction.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court would set aside his sentence and impose a new sentence of 36 months with the final 12 suspended.

Lawlor was required to enter into his own bond of €100 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 12 months post release. When asked if he undertook to be so bound, he said “I do”.

By Ruaidhrí Giblin/Sunday World reporter