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Suspended sentence for Dublin man who hit Sikh man on the head with a meat cleaver

CourtsBy Sunday World
Victim was struck with a meat cleaver
Victim was struck with a meat cleaver

A young man who hit a Sikh shop assistant over the head with a meat cleaver during a robbery, forcing him to have his hair cut against his wishes, has avoided jail.

Patrick Whelan (20) of Marrowbone Lane, Dublin was given a suspended three-year sentence in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today after Judge Pauline Codd noted he was a first-time offender from a “decent, hardworking family”. She ordered him to pay his victim €4000 in compensation.

Whelan pleaded guilty to robbing and assaulting Navdeep Singh at a newsagent in Blanchardstown on July 27, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to being a passenger in a car that was taken without consent.

In a victim impact statement handed in to court, Mr Singh said he received 13 stitches to his head after the assault, felt vulnerable and had difficulty sleeping. He said he had to have his hair cut to get treatment for the head injury and it had not yet grown back.

“He is a Sikh by religion and had to have his hair cut,” Judge Codd said. “He found that difficult.”

Detective Garda Mark Ferris told Lisa Dempsey BL, prosecuting, that Mr Singh was behind the till around 5pm on the day in question when Whelan burst into the shop wielding a meat cleaver. Whelan shouted at Mr Singh to open the till, but hit him over the head before giving him a chance to do so.

Whelan then took €600 from the till and made off with a co-accused in a car which had been stolen a few days previously, Det Gda Ferris said. A witness to the robbery called gardaí and Mr Singh was taken to hospital.

When pulled over by gardaí later that evening, Whelan was found to have a 10 inch saw blade in his trouser leg as well as the meat cleaver stuck down his trousers. €150 in cash was found in the car, but the rest of the money was never recovered. Whelan's co-accused remains before the courts.

Defence barrister, John Fitzgerald BL, said Whelan came from a supportive family, but started using drugs after he was bullied in school and got in with the wrong crowd.

At the time of the offence, he was “not quite homeless” but was living outside of the family home and needed money to pay off a drug debt. His parents, siblings and girlfriend were in court to support him, he said.

A psychological report found Whelan was a “quiet, reserved, well-spoken young man who feels remorse and guilt and who is anxious and apprehensive as regards to his future”, the court heard.

Sentencing Whelan, Judge Codd said the assault was “completely unjustified”.

“It was administered to Mr Singh without giving him any opportunity to open the till or defend himself,” she said. “Mr Singh was wholly defenceless.”

However, the judge noted Whelan has no previous convictions, “which is unusual in this type of case”. She said the offence occurred when he was using illicit drugs and associating with “negative people”.

“He comes from a decent family who are hardworking and standing by him,” she said. She also took into account a probation report that showed Whelan was at moderate risk of re-offending.

She gave him a suspended three-year sentence on a number of conditions, including that he remain under the supervision of probation services for four years, undertake drug, alcohol, anger awareness and victim awareness courses.

She said he must pay the first half of the €4000 compensation within two years and the remainder within four years.

“If you come back to the attention of this court, you will go to prison,” she told Whelan.