Man robbed nine-year-old boy of his mother’s car keys

by Gazette Reporter
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By Eimear Dodd & David O’Sullivan

A man who pleaded guilty to robbing a nine-year-old of his mother’s car keys and a man of his social welfare payment has been jailed for four years.

Owen Flood (29), of Ballybough Avenue, Ballybough, Dublin 3, appeared before Judge Orla Crowe in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court onThursdayhaving pleaded guilty to robbery and theft on February 22, 2020 and a further count of robbery on March 10, 2020.

The court heard that the incident on February 22, 2020 involved the robbery of a car key from a nine-year-old boy and the theft of his mother’s Volkswagen Golf car.

Garda Paul Brierly told Emmet Nolan BL, prosecuting, that the child was attending an activity on Foley Street and his mother parked her car to collect him. The boy was given the key to the car, then walked to it and put his school bag inside.

He locked the car and was walking back when Flood approached him and demanded the car key. The boy refused and ran towards where his mother was.

Flood demanded the car key again and the child refused again. The accused man then grabbed the child and attempted to grab the key before he managed to take it by force.

Flood took the car and drove away. The vehicle was never recovered. The court heard the estimated value of the car is €15,000.

The child was interviewed by specialist gardaí.

CCTV was also obtained and used to identify Flood.

His address was searched, but nothing was recovered. Flood was arrested in relation to this incident in May 2020, and interviewed once, but nothing of evidential value arose.

Gda Brierly told the court that the boy was shocked and shaken by the incident, but is okay. He said the boy initially felt guilty about the incident, but was reassured by his parents and gardaí that it was not his fault.

The court then heard Flood was one of two men who stole €180 from a man outside a post office on Main Street, Celbridge on March 10, 2020.

The injured party had just collected his social welfare payment from the Post Office when he was set upon by Flood and another man, who has since died.

CCTV footage showed Flood and the other man following the injured party out of the Post Office, but the robbery itself was not captured on CCTV.

Later that same day, Flood was brought into custody on a separate matter. He was interviewed twice during which he identified himself on the CCTV.

He also told gardaí that the other man was the principal actor in the robbery, but he admitted he was present.

A trial date was initially taken, but Flood entered guilty pleas earlier this year.

Flood has 55 previous convictions including for theft, misuse of drugs, criminal damage, public order and road traffic offenses. 

No victim impact statements were submitted to the court.

Gda Brierly agreed with defence counsel that his client does not have any previous convictions for violent offences. He also accepted the Flood was homeless at the time and has addiction and mental health issues.

It was further agreed that Flood offered some assistance to gardaí in relation to the robbery in Celbridge.

Defence counsel read a letter of apology written by Flood. He noted the seriousness of these offences and the impact on the child.

Documents including a doctor’s report, urine analysis and a governor’s report were handed to the court.

Defence counsel said his client has a “dysfunctional” family background and started taking drugs when he was a teenager, but has since taken steps to deal with his addiction. Flood has a number of mental health conditions including OCD.

His client is a father of three children and wishes to play a fuller role in their lives in future.

Flood is doing well in custody and has worked as a cleaner.

In sentencing, Judge Crowe said Flood was “still a young man” and these crimes “absolutely constitute an escalation of offending in his life.”

She told the court the aggravating factors in the first offence were that Flood robbed a child, that the car was never recovered and the amount of past previous convictions.

Judge Crowe said in the second offence, Flood had deliberately targeted the man and the money wasn’t recovered.

For both offences, Judge Crowe said the mitigating factors were that Flood pleaded guilty, has been doing well in custody and has expressed remorse.

Judge Crowe said Flood’s drug addiction seems to be at the root of his offending and that “he needs to do work.”

She sentenced him to four years and eight months’ imprisonment but suspended the final eight months “in order to incentivise his continued rehabilitation.”

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