NewsCrime Desk

Scumbag bet elderly man with hammer during vicious robbery

Brennan is from Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin
Brennan is from Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin

A hammer attack on an elderly man has left the victim suffering flashbacks, a court has heard.

Dubliner Warren Brennan (25) targeted his victim after the man had withdrawn €5,000 cash from a bank to give to his family.

Wearing a motorcycle helmet and waving a claw hammer Brennan went up to the 71-year-old man and started shouting “give me the money”. When the victim refused and called him a “scumbag” Brennan hit him repeatedly with the hammer around the head and body.

The victim was knocked to the ground and Brennan punched him in the face. The victim managed to pull Brennan's helmet off and tried to gouge into his eyes.

Brennan then bit down on the victim's thumb breaking the skin before running off with the cash. The victim told gardai that he thought the attacker was going to bite his thumb off.

He was released from hospital later with no serious problems. In a victim impact report he said that every time he sees a hammer or motorcycle helmet it flashes back memories of the attack. He said he thinks this will continue for the rest of his life.

Brennan of Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at Alderwood Park, Tallaght on October 27, 2015.

He has 54 previous convictions including convictions for possession of firearms, theft, burglary and assault. In 2011 he was jailed for three years for carrying out an attempted robbery during which he held a gun to a shop assistant’s head.

Brennan was on bail at the time of this robbery on a charge of aggravated burglary at a bookmakers on Lombard Street, Dublin city on December 20, 2014. He has since pleaded guilty to this offence and to resisting a police officer on the same occasion.

He was armed with a kitchen knife during this robbery and he tried to stab gardai with it as they tried to arrest him.

Judge Catherine Murphy said she needed time to consider various reports before the court. She remanded Brennan, who is in custody for other offences, on continuing bail until January 16 next for sentence.

The judge described the robbery as “particularly nasty” and said that Brennan had used “gratuitous violence”. She said the elderly victim “is never going to be the same man again”.

She said both of the crimes “were very well thought out and deliberate”.

Sean Gillane SC, defending, said his client had a difficult childhood after been “born into addiction” but was lucky enough to be parented by his maternal grandparents.

His grandfather died when he was a young teenager. Counsel said this “led to a loss of direction in his own life” and Brennan then became a daily abuser of serious drugs and began offending.

Gda Bernard Maguire said that during the bookmakers burglary Brennan pushed his way into the shop as a member of staff was opening up. He was armed with a kitchen knife and demanded money.

He put around €500 in notes and some coins into a bag. The staff member managed to secretly activate a security alarm and gardai arrived within minutes.

Brennan ran past armed gardai and into the court of a nearby flats complex. Unarmed garda caught up with him when Brennan was cornered in the doorway of a flat and Brennan tried to stab them with the knife.

The gardai attempted to pepper spray him but the spray hit the door and came back at gardai. The occupants of the flat, who knew Brennan, then opened the door and Brennan ran into the back garden and tried to escape over a back wall.

When Gda Maguire followed him by climbing the wall Brennan attempted to strike the garda's hands with the knife. He later dropped the knife and gardai arrested him.

Gda Robert Quigley told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that after the Tallaght robbery, patrol gardai stopped Brennan nearby and found the €5,000 cash on him.

Brennan gave them a false name but his father later rang into the station asking for “Warren” and gardai then used Pulse to find out his real identity.

While in custody Brennan covered himself in his own faeces and damaged the cell. The judge noted Brennan's 54 previous convictions and said he had been given “so many chances”.

“He was given an enormous amount of latitude in the belief that he would change his ways but he never did,” Judge Murphy said.

The court heard that the victims of both the burglary and the robbery were still suffering the effects of the attacks. The bookmakers staff member, who is in his mid-20s, said he now felt more nervous in the city and felt the need to move out of town after the burglary.

Mr Gillane told Judge Murphy his client expressly acknowledged that these were dreadful offences with “very real flesh and blood victims” going about their business.

He said Brennan was “tremendously sorry for the hurt he visited upon them” and handed a letter of apology.

Counsel said Brennan had also started developing mental health problems arising from his various addictions. He handed in a psychiatric report which outlined that Brennan was at risk of developing schizophrenia.

Mr Gillane asked Judge Murphy to accept that Brennan was not without capability and said there had been points in his life when he had been intelligent, able to contribute and articulate.

“It is not a case where the key should be thrown away” he said.