Man who attempted carjackings after hospital discharge is jailed

by Padraig Conlon
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A man who discharged himself from hospital to go in search of drugs and tried to car-jack two female drivers at knifepoint has been jailed for three years.

Derek Claffey (30) of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawful seizure of cars in Ardevin, Lucan, and in Hillcrest Road, Lucan, on September 25, 2017.

Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin sentenced Claffey to four years imprisonment but suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions. She backdated the sentence to September 20, 2018, the date he first went into custody on this matter.

The court heard that on the date in question, Claffey was involved in a road traffic accident and discharged himself from hospital.

He had taken heroin earlier that day and wanted to get more drugs.

Claffey waved down a woman who was driving home, reached through her open window when she stopped and grabbed her car keys.

He was holding an eight inch serrated steak knife and said he wanted the car.

The woman offered to give him money for a taxi instead, handing him €50 in exchange for her car keys.

Claffey then asked for her phone number, which she declined to give him.

He later stopped another woman driving her car and made an attempt to grab her keys, cutting her seat belt with his knife and then holding it against her throat.

The woman’s son shouted at Claffey and he ran away.

Claffey has 64 previous convictions.

These include convictions for possession of an article with intent to cause injuries, possession of knives, robbery and dangerous driving.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, said his client grappled with addictions issues and was not in his right state of mind when he discharged himself from hospital.

He said Claffey offered an unreserved apology to the victims in the case, particularly the “nice lady” who offered him money for a taxi.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin said the aggravating factors in the case were the possession of the knife, the threats of violence and Claffey’s history of substance abuse.

She said the mitigating factors were his guilty plea and his personal circumstances.

Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, asked Judge Ni Chulachain to make a destruction order for the knife.

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