“Religious man” attacked and terrified priest in robbery

A man who attacked and left a priest “terrified” has been sentenced to six years in prison.

by Aishling Conway
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Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where a man was jailed for robbing shops with a blood-filled syringe

By Claire Henry

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Anthony Connors (47), formally of South Richmond Street, Dublin 2, pleaded guilty to the robbery of a priest at a parochial house in the Coolock area on September 30, 2021.

He has 61 previous convictions, including for burglary, false imprisonment, criminal damage, assault and impersonating a member of the gardai.

Passing sentence, Judge Martin Nolan said that from viewing the CCTV footage from outside of the parochial house, the accused was in the property for 20 minutes.

Judge Nolan said that while in the house, the accused decided to “steal from the priest” and “pulled and knocked him to the ground”.

The judge said the priest was threatened with a knife and was “attacked and terrified”. He said the accused has a long record of convictions.

Judge Nolan said: “I am afraid he is facing a long sentence in prison now as I consider this a very serious offence” and set a headline sentence of eight years in prison.  After taking the accused’s guilty plea and his letter of remorse into consideration he sentenced him to six years in prison, which will be backdated from when he went into custody on this matter.

Detective Garda Andrew Fox told Maddie Grant, BL, prosecuting, that on September 30, 2021, Connors went to the parochial house for financial assistance. While he was in the house, he decided to rob the priest. He also assaulted him and threatened him with a knife.

Det Gda Fox said the priest managed to escape and ran down the road to a neighbour. The neighbour then called the gardai. CCTV footage from outside the parochial house was shown to the court in which Connors could be seen entering the house followed by the priest running from the house 20 minutes later.

The court heard that gardai identified Connors from the CCTV and he was arrested and interviewed.

A victim impact statement was handed into the court but not read aloud. The court heard that the priest had made a good recovery. but has sleepless nights and is nervous about opening his door, especially at night.

Det Gda Fox agreed with John Moher, BL, defending, that his client had a history of addiction issues.

Mr Moher said he would like to acknowledge the seriousness of this offence and that his client would like to express his remorse and shame. A letter from Connors was handed into the court but not read aloud.

Counsel said the priest is a good man who was trying to help a man who came to his door. He said his client went to the house with the intention of seeking help and that the robbery was not premeditated.

He said, “There is a dark irony as my client is religious, and his victim is a member of the clergy”, and that this sits very badly with him.

He said his client knows that he facing a lengthy prison sentence and asked the court to take into account the guilty plea, and expressions of shame and remorse.

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