Man jailed for ‘horrible attack’ on lady walking her dog in a broad daylight

by Gazette Reporter
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By Eimear Dodd

A man who robbed a handbag from a woman while she was walking her dog during “a horrible attack in broad daylight” has been jailed.

Shane O’Connor (41) of Cabra Park, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at St Peter’s Lane, Cabra, on August 20, 2022.

Imposing sentence Judge Crowe said this was a “horrible attack in broad daylight on a woman walking her dog” which displayed a “lack of human concern”.

Garda Fintan Condon told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that the victim left her home at around 2pm on the day in question.

While walking on St Peter’s Lane, she felt someone following her and turned around. She saw a man behind her wearing a baseball cap and a hoodie. The man also had a tattoo on the left side of his neck.

The victim said “what do you want?” to the man, who was later identified as O’Connor from CCTV.

He started to pull at the bag on her shoulder and pulled hard three times. The strap broke and he took the bag.

The complainant ran after O’Connor, screaming, and hit him with the dog lead. Some members of the public heard her and followed him. O’Connor ran down a nearby laneway where a number of people caught up with him.

They asked O’Connor to give them the bag and said they would then let him go. O’Connor held up his hands, which had blood on them, to one member of the public and said: “Do you want any of this on you”, causing this person to feel afraid they may catch a disease.

O’Connor handed back the bag, which was covered in blood, and the complainant’s phone. Other items from the bag were recovered in the area, except the woman’s wallet, which contained her Polish driving licence and identification documents.

O’Connor’s home was searched by gardai on August 26, during which similar items of clothing were recovered. He was interviewed, but nothing of evidential value was obtained. An analysis of blood on the handbag matched O’Connor.

He has 52 previous convictions including three for robbery and eight for theft. He was on bail at the time of this incident and is currently serving a four year sentence for robbery.

A victim impact statement was read to the court by Ms Crawford. The victim outlined the effects of the robbery on her and her family. She said walking her dog used to be a “pleasure”, but has become a “chore” since this incident.  The woman said she had to travel to Poland to replace documents.

Gda Condon agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that no weapon was used and the only physical contact between the complainant and his client was when she struck him with the dog lead. He also accepted that O’Connor did not attack the people who chased him.

The garda confirmed O’Connor was living in the vicinity of St Peter’s Lane at the time of the offence and has been in custody since August 2022.

Mr Le Vert told the court that O’Connor left school before completing the Junior Certificate and developed a serious drugs problem, including an addiction to crack cocaine. Since entering custody, he is doing well and has been taking steps to detox.

Defence counsel asked the court to take into account a three-year period between 2017 and 2020, when his client did not come to garda attention. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, O’Connor was unable to access support services and relapsed into addiction.

His client was attacked twice, sustaining a punctured lung and damage to the nerves in his hands. The mother of O’Connor’s child and his aunt have also recently passed away.

Mr Le Vert said his client is mortified by his behaviour and expressed his remorse. Urine analysis and a letter from Merchant’s Quay Ireland were handed to the court.

Judge Orla Crowe said this was a “cowardly thing to do in broad daylight which had consequences for the injured party”.

She said the victim impact statement was a “vivid reminder” of the long-lasting consequences of these events.  The judge also noted the effect of the loss of “critical” documents for the victim and the cost to replace them. She commended the victim for her bravery and wished her well in the future.

Judge Crowe said the court did not accept there was no physical contact between O’Connor and the victim, as he pulled the bag with such force that the strap broke. She said the aggravating factors included O’Connor’s previous convictions, the impact on the victim and that he was on bail at the time.

She said the mitigation included his guilty plea, remorse and that he is doing well in prison. 

She commended the members of the public who came to the complainant’s assistance for their “civic minded nature”. It was a “great act of neighbourliness and courage”, she added.

Judge Crowe handed O’Connor a three-year sentence to run consecutively to his current sentence. The judge suspended the final 18 months of the sentence on strict conditions, including that he place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service.

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