By Isabel Hayes
A man who walked into a garda station and confessed to robbing a post office with an imitation firearm under duress has been jailed for 21 months.
Ian Byrne (41) told gardai he was under pressure from a drugs gang after he racked up a debt for cocaine usage when he injured his knee. The court heard he had previously worked as a forklift driver for Ikea for eight years.
Byrne, of Dane Road, Balbutcher Lane, Ballymun, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of robbing a post office on Dorset St, Dublin 7 and one count of possessing an imitation firearm on November 1, 2022.
A further count of attempting to rob a post office in Cabra two days later was taken into consideration. He has no previous convictions.
Detective Garda Eoin Morrison told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that Byrne was recognised on CCTV footage by gardaí, but that before there was time for anything to be done about it, Byrne walked into his local garda station in Ballymun and admitted to robbing the post offices.
The court heard that in the first incident, Byrne walked into Dorset Street post office with the realistic handgun and told the postmaster to hand over money. He made off with about €1000.
In the second incident two days later, Byrne pointed the imitation gun at a worker behind the glass counter of the post office in Cabra before she screamed and retreated to a back room. He left without any money.
The court heard that on two occasions later that month, Byrne approached gardaí and told them he was carrying a knfe for protection from a criminal gang. He told them he was being coerced to commit crimes, but he did not admit he had carried out this particular robbery and attempted robbery until he went to Ballymun garda station.
George Burns BL, defending, said his client’s mother was also being threatened by the gang, and these threats were being investigated by gardaí in Ballymun.
The court heard he is on medication for depression.
Sentencing him today/yesterday (MON), Judge Martin Nolan accepted Byrne was under pressure when he committed the crimes. He said he would have considered not sending him to jail if there had just been one incident.
“I don’t think it would be reasonable or just for him to avoid a custodial term by reason of his problems,” he said. The judge said he would have considered a term of five to six years if not for the mitigating circumstances in the case.
He jailed Byrne for 21 months, saying “that’s the lowest I can possibly go.”
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