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'bad on crack' Phone thief who claimed he had HIV after biting victim's leg gets suspended sentence

Alan Downey (39) pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Colepark Road on May 20 last year.

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A PHONE thief bit into his victim's bare leg as they struggled, then falsely claimed he had HIV.

Alan Downey (39) was "bad on crack cocaine" when he bit the man, who was wearing shorts at the time and was injured in the assault.

Judge Michael Walsh gave him an eight-month suspended sentence when he appeared in Dublin District Court.

Downey, with an address at Colepark Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm at Colepark Road on May 20 last year.

The prosecuting garda said the accused and the victim engaged in a conversation on the street and Downey asked to use the man's phone.

The phone was initially returned but taken again and a fight ensued, the court heard.

In the course of this, the accused bit the victim on the leg. The man was wearing shorts at the time and the bite broke the skin. There were "verbals" and the accused "suggested that he had HIV, which wasn't the case", the garda said.

A short time later, Downey was located on the Ballyfermot Road, 500m from where the incident occurred, the garda continued.

He was searched and the iPhone taken from the victim was found in his pocket. Downey was intoxicated at the time of the offence, the court heard. He was a crack cocaine addict and was "particularly bad on crack at the time," the garda said.

When sober, Downey was "a likeable character" but it aggravated things when he was "bad on the crack", the garda said.

The DPP consented to the case being dealt with in the district court on a guilty plea only, a garda sergeant said.

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Downey had saved the courts a huge amount of time by pleading guilty, his solicitor Brian Coveney said.

Judge Walsh asked the garda if he thought the drugs had an influence on the assault.

"I don't think he would have behaved like that if it wasn't for the crack," the garda said. "The drug use here is a huge factor, and the need for money."

Judge Walsh suspended the sentence for 18 months on the accused entering a probation bond. A condition is that Downey engages with addiction services.

The charges were under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person and Theft and Fraud Offences Acts.

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