A man involved in “shameful” robberies where he attacked people he approached while begging, took items from an unconscious man on the street and held up a launderette with a knife has been jailed for seven years.
Andrew Cash (32), of no fixed abode, appeared before Judge Pauline Codd in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to counts of theft, robbery, attempted robbery and assault causing harm at locations across Dublin between May and November of 2020.
Garda Ruth Finnegan told Sarah Connolly BL, prosecuting, that Cash pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and assault causing harm of a man coming home from a night out, leaving the victim unable to remember his own name and requiring hospitalisation.
On the evening of November 9, 2020, the man had been out socialising with friends when he stopped in Crane Lane, Dublin 2, for a smoke.
Cash and another person approached him and asked for a cigarette. Cash then grabbed the man and punched him in the face.
Cash left the scene, before returning a few moments later with two others and again attacking the man. They pulled him to the ground, kicking him to the body multiple times and stamping on his head.
CCTV played to the court showed a nearby bystander intervening. A member of the group rifled through the injured man’s pockets before they all left, but nothing was taken.
The court heard gardaí were called to the scene, where they found the injured man covered in blood and extremely upset. Garda Finnegan said: “We couldn’t even get his name out of him. He was completely disorientated.”
The man was taken to St James’ hospital. He had cracked front teeth, facial swelling, back pain, headaches and a minor bleed on the brain. He was suffering with a concussion and discs in his back had slipped.
A witness to the assault provided gardaí with a description of the attackers. Cash was arrested later that night for a separate robbery incident, and was identified because he was still wearing the same clothes.
In a victim impact statement handed in to the court, the man said he had always thought Ireland was a safe place, but doesn’t think this anymore and is considering leaving the country.
The man said he’s afraid to go out with friends or leave his house, and can’t sleep without having nightmares.
The court also heard evidence of three other incidents where Cash had been involved in robberies or attempted robberies.
Sergeant Kevin Cassidy told Diane Stuart BL, prosecuting that in the remaining incidents, that Cash had told a pair of young men that he had a knife and wasn’t afraid to use it before robbing one and attempting to rob the other.
The two men had been socialising on South William St, Dublin 2, on September 15, 2020 when Cash approached them begging for change.
One of the men gave Cash some money, but he then became agitated and said he had a knife.
The court heard he ordered the two young men to empty their pockets and that he had “no hesitation about slashing their faces.”
One of the men gave him €20, before Cash punched him in the eye and told him “not to get smart.” The other man said he had no money to give.
Cash was later identified by nearby CCTV and arrested.
Garda Kieren McGovern said Cash also pleaded guilty to a sole count of robbery of a launderette on Dunville Ave in Rathmines on October 21, 2020.
Cash walked into the launderette, pulled up his top and produced a knife with a dark brown handle.
He directed the staff to the back of the shop and then took €50 from the till.
Cash was identified from CCTV from the launderette and arrested.
The court also heard that Cash had pleaded guilty to theft on May 7, 2020, when he took a debit card and mobile phone from an unconscious man on Patrick Street, Dublin 8. The man was intoxicated and had passed out.
Aidan McCarthy BL, defending, said his client had been in State care since the age of three and had grown up in foster homes.
He said his client was homeless and using drugs at the time of the offending, and had been drinking since the age of 9 and using drugs since 12 years old.
Mr McCarthy said his client was “institutionalised” and that “upon release in the past, he has no idea what to do when he’s out of prison.”
“It’s sad that the structure of prison is the best and most stable structure that he’s ever known,” Mr McCarthy said, “I wonder: had I been in care since the age of three with no familial structure, with alcoholic parents and in the machinery of the State – would I be somewhere else?”
Cash has 66 previous convictions, for robbery, burglary, threats to kill, assault, attempted theft, theft, criminal damage, public order and failure to appear.
In sentencing, Judge Codd said she would take a totality view in respect of the matters before her, but that she considered the assault and attempted robbery from Crane Lane to be the most significant offending.
She said some of the victims “were people who had attempted to help him” and described it as “shameful” that he would then attack them.
Judge Codd said the aggravating factors were Cash’s relevant previous convictions, the violence used, the threat or use of knives, and that he had “effectively returned with a posse” in the Crane Lane incident.
In mitigation, the judge said she also considered Cash’s guilty plea, his personal circumstances and that he has been homeless for a very long time. She said “it’s quite clear that from a very young age the accused has had a very difficult life.”
“At almost 33 years of age now, he does seem to be mindful that he needs to address his entrenched substance abuse issues and work towards recovery.”
Judge Codd said it was “an indictment on the State system” that someone could come through it without being offered appropriate counselling for the “very obvious trauma that has been visited on him.” However, she said Cash was at an age where “he must find the strength in himself to take responsibility of his own mental welfare.”
Judge Codd sentenced Cash to a global sentence of eight years, but suspended the final year “to give him an opportunity to show that he can reform.”