Former champion dog handler turned to armed muggings

by Padraig Conlon
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A former champion dog handler who threatened to stab a garda is facing jail for three armed muggings.

Michael Geoghegan, who once won Best Dog Handler at Crufts, admitted carrying out the robberies at knifepoint in Swords to feed his drug habit.

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery and production of a knife at Rathbeale Road in Swords on August 18 last year.

Geoghegan, of Ormond View, Swords Manor, also admitted producing a large kitchen knife to intimidate and producing an iron drill bit and knife while resisting arrest.

Geoghegan also threatened to stab a garda who chased him down after the robberies.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that Detective Sergeant Alan Flaherty eventually disarmed him using his baton.

The court heard the offences come with a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned the case to July 23 for sentence.

Judge Ryan was told that Geoghegan began using drugs in his early teens and was addicted to heroin at 16.

His counsel told the court that Geoghegan had stayed off drugs since the 2018 robberies.

She also revealed that he had “some talent” with animals in his youth and had won an award at Crufts for Best Dog Handler.

After his arrest, gardai believed Geoghegan was medically unfit for interview. He later said he couldn’t remember anything about the offences but admitted it was him on CCTV footage.

Detective Garda Warren O’Sullivan told the court that Geoghegan carried out the robberies on three random women at around nine in the morning.

The first victim, who worked as a care assistant, was walking to a house for a care visit when Geoghegan came up behind her and put his arm around her neck.

He told her: “Give me your money, I want paper not coins.” She saw the blade of a knife in his hand and gave him some cash, the court heard.

Geoghegan has one previous conviction for robbery with an imitation firearm in 2005 as well as a previous conviction for drug offences.

Detective Garda O’Sullivan told Ms Kealy that he accepted that her client was genuinely sorry for these offences.

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