Off-duty trainee garda 'tackled man with imitation gun in shop'

The incident happened on Oxmanstown Road in Dublin earlier this year
The incident happened on Oxmanstown Road in Dublin earlier this year

A man stormed a Dublin shop with an imitation gun and held it to a shop assistant's head before being overpowered by off-duty trainee garda, a court has heard.

Patrick Brazil (42) with an address in Drumalee Drive, Dublin 7, carried out a string of robberies in shops across Dublin between August 2014 and January 16, with most offences taking place while he was on bail, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery, one count of trespassing and causing criminal damage and possession of a knife.

In January 29 this year, Brazil entered a shop on Oxmantown Road, Dublin 7, pressed an imitation Smith & Wesson gun to the side of the shop assistant's head and ordered him to empty the till, prosecution barrister, Elva Duffy BL, said.

The gun was “extremely realistic”, Ms Duffy said. “He thought he would be shot if he didn't do what he was told.”

As the shop worker was emptying the till, a man came to the door and shouted at Brazil to stop, before identifying himself as an off-duty garda, Garda Claire Rafferty told the court.

The garda retreated when Brazil pointed the gun at him, but advanced into the shop once more as he “was concerned for the safety of the shop assistant”, the court heard.

A struggle ensued and he managed to overpower Brazil, kicking the gun to the floor. During the struggle, Brazil said he knew who the garda was and would kill him and his girlfriend, the court heard.

“It was a terrifying incident,” Ms Duffy said.

Gardaí arrived shortly afterwards and Brazil was arrested. He was on bail for a number of offences, including robbing two other shops in Dublin 1 and Dublin 7, breaking into Nutgrove Enterprise Park in Dublin 14 and brandishing a knife at a shop assistant in Supervalu on Talbot Street.

In one of the incidents, on July 8, 2015, Brazil pointed an imitation firearm at a staff member before robbing €150 in cash and €350 worth of tobacco.

Defence barrister, John Byrne BL, submitted these were “extremely serious offences”. But he said his client was suffering from severe alcohol and drug addiction at the time. “He is a very different man now,” Mr Byrne said.

The court heard Brazil has abstained from alcohol and weaned himself off methadone and is hopeful of securing a place in Coolmine Drug Treatment Centre. Mr Byrne asked that the matter be adjourned to see if such a place might become available early next year.

Judge Melanie Greally granted the adjournment but noted the offences involving the use of imitation firearms were “particularly serious”.

“I can't see myself imposing a non-custodial sentence at any point on those matters,” she said. The case will return to court on January 12 next year.