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demanded cash Woman (34) who threatened man (90) with knife after break-in jailed for six years

Michelle O’Leary took €60 from his pocket, dropped the weapon and left.

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A woman who broke into her elderly neighbour’s home after banging on his door and pretending to be the police has been jailed for six years for this and the attempted robbery of another man.

In April 2021, Michelle O’Leary (34) pushed in the door when the 90-year-old man came down to answer it and produced a knife while demanding money from him.

She then took €60 from his pocket, dropped the weapon and left.

The previous month she had called three times to another neighbour’s home, a 69-year-old man, and asked him for money to get to the hospital because her mother was unwell.

The man gave her €70 in total before that same evening O’Leary called again, along with a man, and pushed past the victim into his home and asked for €100.

She and the man then suggested that they walk with the victim to a nearby convenience store to take the money out of the ATM.

However, the manager of the shop knew the victim and became concerned when he saw the couple with him.

He kicked them out of the shop and called the gardaí.

Garda Kelly Mannion told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that the older man was living in a complex for elderly residents and at the time O’Leary was staying in her mother’s apartment next door.

She was not supposed to be living there.

The victim was able to identify O’Leary to the gardaí and she was arrested at her mother’s apartment.

She made admissions in interview and has been on remand in custody since.

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O’Leary of St Peter’s Court, Phibsborough, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to aggravated burglary, production of a knife and making a statement to suggest she was a member of An Garda Siochána on April 15, 2021.

She also pleaded guilty to burglary, attempted robbery and false imprisonment of the other man on March 27, 2021.

Her 30 previous convictions include offences for robbery, assault and theft.

Judge Melanie Greally said these were two similar offences committed within a short period of time, both of which were premeditated and involved the targeting of vulnerable and elderly men living alone.

The judge said O'Leary has made efforts in the past to address addictions to heroin and crack cocaine, but had undergone a relapse at the time of the offences. She noted that O'Leary's children are all being cared for by relatives or foster parents.

Judge Greally sentenced O'Leary to seven years imprisonment, but suspended the final 12 months of the sentence on strict conditions.

Gda Mannion told Ms Stuart that the whole incident happened very quickly in April 2021 and the victim was very frightened by it.

He picked up the knife after O’Leary dropped it and handed it over to gardaí when they arrived.

He has not lived at the house since and his family are waiting to secure him a place in a nursing home.

His nephew prepared a victim impact statement for the sentence hearing, but it was not read out in court.

Gda Mannion agreed with Patrick McCarthy BL, defending, that O’Leary told gardaí during interview that she was very ashamed of her behaviour and she had a serious drug addiction at the time.

Gda James McDonald said the victim in the first burglary was able to tell gardaí that he knew O’Leary and that she lived nearby.

O’Leary was later arrested and made full admissions.

Mr McCarthy said his client was taken into foster care from the age of eight to 14 years old after she was abused as a child.

She began to take prescription drugs to help her overcome the death of two of her brothers a number of years ago which ultimately led to an addiction and then to her abusing heroin.

Mr McCarthy said his client was extremely ashamed of her actions and was apologetic to the victims.

He said she “engaged in this behaviour to feed her addiction” and has “a poor recollection of the incident."

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