By David O’Sullivan
A man who walked into a supermarket and fired at the ceiling has been jailed for six years for armed robbery.
Paul Clarke (41), formerly of Coolock Drive, Coolock, Dublin, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment today by Judge Orla Crowe after pleading guilty to robbing a Lidl on the Malahide Road with a handgun on November 13, 2019.
At the time of the incident, CCTV evidence showed Clarke entering the Lidl before discharging his handgun into the ceiling. He then made his way to two open tills before demanding money.
He took approximately €1000 from these two tills. The tray inserts from these tills were taken out and put into a bag Clarke had brought with him, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Clarke had difficulty exiting the building at this point. He got the manager of the shop to open the doors for him. He produced the gun to him and threatened him with it.
Clarke made a demand for the other tills in the shop to be opened, but was told by the manager that Lidl could only open those that were already operational.
Clarke then exited the Lidl and got into a getaway vehicle being driven by an accomplice.
Detective Garda Jason Flynn said the entire incident took “two minutes.”
Gardai patrolling Darndale stopped the car with Clarke and the getaway driver. They approached the two and found drug paraphernalia and cash. The gardai then arrested and interviewed the two men.
CCTV evidence obtained from the surrounding area of the robbery and in Darndale confirmed this was the same vehicle used to escape the robbery.
During the course of the gardai interview, it came to light that clothes used in the robbery could be found at a location in Darndale. Gunshot residue was obtained from the jacket Clarke had worn while committing the crime and in the passenger side of the getaway car.
Clarke has 115 previous convictions, including two for false imprisonment and two for threatening to kill or cause serious harm.
He also has a prior conviction for an attempted robbery on October 1, 2021. He was sentenced to five years and has been in prison since then.
Sentencing last week, ClarkeJudge Crowe described the incident as “extreme lawlessness” and a “very serious matter.”
She considered the mitigating factors including Clarke’s guilty plea and the fact he issued an apology. However, she said the aggravating factors included the amount and nature of previous convictions along with the fact that he had taken a live weapon into the shop and had fired it.
Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, described the robbery as “opportunistic” and “poorly executed.”
He said one of the chores allocated for Clarke as a child had been “stealing food and other basics” for his siblings and how his back story framed “antisocial behaviour”.
He said Clarke’s childhood had been “marred by drug addiction, homelessness, neglect, violence” and that much of his criminal past was linked to that.