Man gets suspended sentence for knife attack on two teenage girls

by Padraig Conlon

A welder who has made a “remarkable” recovery from a chronic drug addiction has received a suspended sentence for a knife attack on two teenage girls six years ago.

In April 2014 Darren Byrne (29) was stealing to feed a drug habit when he went up to the two 17 year old girls and told them: “this is what’s going to happen, give me all your stuff or I’ll slit your throat”.

He pointed a knife at them and then pressed the knife up against the throat of one girl.

Byrne and a female co-accused then made off with a handbag with cash and and iPod.

The attack took place around midnight after the teenagers had failed to get into a pub and were walking along Trinity Street in Dublin city centre.

The pair were picked up nearby by gardaí a short time later.

Byrne admitted carrying out the mugging and said he was under the influence of tablets at the time.

The victims described him as “a bit stupid” and said the woman seemed to be in charge and “seemed smarter” and was more threatening and aggressive than Byrne.

The attack left them both more fearful of being in the city centre and of going out after dark.

Byrne of Shackleton Hall, Lucan, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery on April 17, 2014.

The court heard that after his arrest he fled to the UK where he got a job working in a relative’s “bouncy castle” business.

He returned to Dublin in July 2014 and got a job which he has held down since.

Nicola Cox BL, defending, said that he was aware he was living a life “on the run” from the charges and decided last year to hand himself in.

Garda Sergeant Bernard Maguire agreed that Byrne had made a remarkable turnaround from someone who was in 2014 at the peak of a chronic drug addiction.

Ms Cox said her client began taking cocaine at the age of 14 and had amassed drug debts by the age of 15.

Ms Cox said since the 2014 robbery her client has spent the time rehabilitating himself and building his employment skills.

Judge Pauline Codd noted that Byrne had a difficult background and said he must be commended for his “very significant” efforts to rehabilitate.

She noted a report from a childcare organisation which described his presence in his son’s life as positive.

Finally she noted his remorse at victimising the teenagers.

She suspended a sentence of three and a half years on condition he keep the peace.

He has previous convictions for a robbery and for thefts, all carried out before this offence.

During his arrest Byrne told gardaí: “I would never have used the knife. I’m sorry, I was on drugs at the time”.

He also became upset when gardaí told him the age of the victims and expressed shock and remorse at his actions, the court heard.

Ms Cox said that since 2014 he has held down a job in the same company where he has worked as a warehouse operative and trained as a welder.

She said a recent reference from the company described him as a hard working, honest and valued employee.

She said that her client had a difficult upbringing and his older brother became a drug addict and went to prison as a teenager.

She said Byrne then believed this was the path for him and he began using drugs too.

She handed in to the court a number of character references as well as a letter from Byrne in which he apologised to the two victims.

The co-accused was previously given a suspended two year prison sentence.

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