A Donegal man who was part of a gang that robbed patrol station with a pellet gun has been jailed for 18 months.
Dean Kelly (21) Ballykeeran, Kilmacrennan pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court to the robbery at Glencar Filling Station at Circular Road, Letterkenny on November 2nd, 2015.
The court heard that 17 year-old Kevin Connors and Niamh McLaughlin, who is in her 40s, were working at the filling station and grocery shop when two men came into the shop with their faces covered at around 9.30am. One was carrying something which Ms McLaughlin believed to be a gun.
She managed to press the panic button. The men took the till which contained over €1,100, with the damage to the till costing over €900.
CCTV was recovered from the premises and Kelly was arrested.
Kelly also admitted the theft of a hi-fi system and deodorant from Dunnes Stores
In Letterkenny the following day.
The court heard that Kelly left the scene of the theft in a taxi.
Gardaí searched his address and the hi-fi was recovered.
When interviewed about the robbery, Kelly told gardaí he was invited by two other people to take part. He walked the 500 yards from his home with the two other men to the filling station.
One of the other men was armed with a pellet gun while another kept watch.
Following the robbery they fled across a ploughed field and lost footwear and clothing.
Items of clothing were found by gardaí.
The money taken in the robbery was not recovered.
The court heard Kelly had a previous condition for unauthorised taking.
In a victim impact statement, Ms McLaughlin said after the robbery she would wake up in a cold sweat and suffered panic attacks. While she used to love her job, she is suspicious and anxious.
Counsel for Kelly, Fiona Crawford (BL), said Kelly was easily lead astray. She said his mother died when he was five years-old, leaving ten children .
Ms Crawford said there had been no indication that Kelly had been involved in the planning of the robbery. She said the two other men arrived at his house and invited him to come along.
Kelly told the court he was “very, very sorry” and ashamed for what he did. He said he was very sorry for what the staff had gone through.
Kelly said been taking “a lot of drink and drugs” at the time, including cocaine, cannabis, magic mushrooms and heroin.
“I was taking almost every drug and drink I could get my hands on,” he said.
The court heard that he has been off drink and has undergone counseling and has attended AA.
He did however drink again on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ms Crawford said Kelly left school with speech difficulties, hearing difficulties and literacy issues.
]Judge Terence O’Sullivan said robbery is not taken lightly. He said Kelly had used force to take cash from the premises.
He said that when robbery is committed there is a victim and Ms McLaughlin was the victim. “It needs to be understood by those who commit robbery,” he said.
Judge O'Sullivan said the crime merited a selection of four years in motion, and he would reduce it because of he pleaded guilty, there was admission and the fact he went along with two other men.
The judge said that the court had been told that Kelly had the support of his family. “It would have been better if they had supported him when he was going through criminality because he comes before the court with previous convictions,” he said.
The judge said that the probation report suggested he had a moderate risk of reoffending, he imposed a two-year prison sentence and suspend the last six months.
A six-month sentence for the theft of the hi-fi was imposed, to run concurrently with the sentence for the robbery.