Man jailed for 2 years for Storm Emma looting of Centra in Tallaght

by Gazette Reporter
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A Tallaght man arrested following the looting of a Centra during Storm Emma last year has been sentenced to two years in prison with the final year suspended.

John Doyle (38), who has 111 previous convictions, threw trollies in the path of gardai as they pursued him through the shop. He had only been in the shop for one minute and 30 seconds before gardai arrived and was found with three packets of cigarettes.

Doyle, of Russell Drive, Russell Square, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespassing at Centra, Kiltalown, Tallaght on March 2, 2018 with the intention of committing theft.

Judge Melanie Greally said to act as Doyle did “during a national emergency” was something that justified a prison sentence and added that “under no circumstances could I consider a non-custodial sentence”.

“It was undoubtedly a very serious incident of anti-social and destructive behaviour, which brought shame on his community and his family,” the judge said.

She accepted that Doyle had a long term partner who was “very pro-social and intolerant of his past bad behaviour and is a very positive influence on him” and also accepted that he was a devoted family man and father.

Judge Greally said she was taking into account Doyle’s expression of remorse, his efforts to rehabilitate and a large number of testimonials and references handed in on his behalf before she suspended the final 12 months of a two year sentence.

At a previous court sitting Detective Garda David Jennings told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that gardai received a call shortly before 8pm during the “atrocious” weather conditions of Storm Emma that the security door of a Centra shop had been breached with a mechanical saw by a group of people.

Gardai made their way as far as they could in a jeep and the remainder of the way on foot. As they arrived a large group of people on the road began shouting warnings that gardai were coming.

Det Gda Jennings said the front shutter of the store had been cut open and people were coming out.

Gardai entered the shop and Doyle took off towards the back of the premises, throwing trollies to obstruct them. He was found crouched down trying to hide in the store room.

Two other men were found in that area of the shop, one of whom had a sledgehammer.

Doyle’s previous convictions include offences such as robbery, burglary, possession of stolen property, road traffic offences and criminal damage.

A co-accused, David Berney (37), of Suncroft Park, Tallaght, has already received an 18 month suspended sentence for his role in the incident.

Det Gda Jennings agreed with Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, that 12 or 13 people could be seen coming in and out of the store on infrared CCTV footage and Doyle was identified by “work boots” he could be seen wearing.

He said the majority of the damage had already been done by the time Doyle entered the shop.

Det Gda Jennings agreed Doyle was not present when the shop shutters were cut open with a con saw and that the cigarette machine had been forced open before he arrived.

Ms O’Callaghan said that certain people looked out of the shop and appeared to beckon others over and it was at that point that Doyle entered the store.

She said Doyle had panicked on seeing gardai and ran, throwing trolleys to slow them down. She said he was deeply ashamed of his actions which almost cost him his relationship with his partner.

She said he did not cause the criminal damage in the area of the shop where he was found.

Counsel said that Doyle had a significant past but was a deeply committed father who had got his life together. She said he was disgusted that he was lured into chaos and lawlessness on the night.

She said he had drink taken on the night and it had been an “opportunistic and stupid” thing to do.

After hearing evidence last March Judge Greally had adjourned sentencing and remanded Doyle on continuing bail pending the preparation of a report from the Probation Service.

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