A man who left a pensioner “helpless” on the ground after robbing her handbag in a “cowardly, exploitative and opportunistic” offence has been jailed for one and a half years.

Anthony Graham (28), of Dunsink Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing then 81-year-old Rita Murphy of her handbag containing her pension money, reading glasses, keys and groceries at St Margaret’s Road, Finglas, on January 6, 2018.

His previous convictions include attempted robbery of a 19-year-old woman’s purse and robbery of a 48-year-old woman’s handbag, for which he received sentences in the District Court.

Judge Martina Baxter said it was a serious robbery of an elderly lady going about her business and that Graham, a father-of-one, had left her “helpless on the ground”.

The judge described the incident as a “cowardly, exploitative and opportunistic offence” and said Graham should feel ashamed.

Garda Michael Costello told the court he was driving in the Finglas area with his window down when he heard screaming and looked around to see an elderly lady on the ground.

A male in distinctive clothing passed by his window on a bike and failed to stop when requested.

Gda Costello told Joe Barnes BL, prosecuting, that he pursued the man and caught up with him at Cappagh Avenue, Finglas. The man, Graham, claimed his bike had been in a collision with an elderly woman.

Gda Costello said while he was speaking with Graham, information came over his car radio that an elderly lady had attended Finglas Garda Station, complaining about being robbed.

Graham then admitted the robbery and said he had discarded items from the bag. Gda Costello with colleagues went back over the route Graham’s bicycle had taken and recovered all property, apart from €100 cash.

Judge Baxter noted that Ms Murphy no longer shops in Finglas, that her weekly pension had been stolen and never recovered, but that “fortunately” she was alright following the robbery.

The judge said it hasn’t helped Graham’s predicament that he was employed at the time. She accepted that his family had repaid the robbed cash.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, submitted to Judge Baxter that his client had matured, was regretful and remorseful and had “broken with his addiction difficulties”. He said Graham would have continued family support on his release from prison.

Judge Baxter took into account Graham’s early guilty plea, his co-operation with the investigation and his personal circumstances.

She imposed a three-year sentence, with the final 18 months suspended for 24 months.