A “largely institutionalised” Dublin man who robbed three shops with a blood-filled syringe to feed his drug habit has been jailed for four and a half years.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Michael Rooney Dignam (37) has 15 previous robbery convictions and one for his brother’s manslaughter, which happened in a fight over a pair of jeans in 1999.
Tony McGillicuddy BL, defending, submitted that Rooney Dignam has had drug addictions since he was ten years old and that he was “largely institutionalised” from time spent in jail.
Counsel submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that Rooney Dignam’s difficulties in life were compounded when he found himself responsible for his teenage brother’s death.
Mr McGillicuddy said the father-of-two wished to extend his “utmost apologies” to the victims of his latest robberies, which he committed over four days.
Rooney Dignam, with an address at St Mark’s Gardens, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to robbing about €1,200 from Spar, Chandlers Guild, James’s Street, Dublin 8, on May 10, 2017.
He also pleaded guilty to robbing €662 from a Londis shop at Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8, on May 12; and robbing €1135 from Centra, Lower Rathmines Road, Dublin 6, on May 14, 2017.
The court heard that in each case, Rooney Dignam entered the shops with a blood filled-syringe, threatened the staff and demanded money from the tills.
Gardaí subsequently identified Rooney Dignam from CCTV footage of each incident.
Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, told Judge Nolan that Rooney Dignam was on bail when he committed the last two robberies so those sentences had to be consecutive to the first offence.
Mr McGillicuddy submitted to Judge Nolan that his client had been living in homeless squats at the time and had been robbing to feed his drug habit.
Judge Nolan commented that to be “confronted by a blood-filled syringe is a frightening prospect”.
He accepted Rooney Dignam had a “pretty tortured upbringing” and had a lot of obstacles in his life.
The judge acknowledged Rooney Dignam’s early guilty pleas, but noted that he was still re-offending despite serving a long time in prison. He imposed a six year sentence with the final 18 months suspended.