A man who committed three armed robberies across Donegal in less than two weeks has been jailed at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
Chad Mitchell admitted two robberies in Letterkenny and a third in Carndonagh between June 4th and 17th 2015.
In one of the robberies, Mitchell - formerly of Windmill View, Letterkenny and now with an address in Tulsk, Co Roscommon - threatened to stab a female member of staff.
The court heard that the first robbery took place at the Happy Days grocery shop on Ballyraine Road in Letterkenny on June 4th, 2015.
Garda Derek Connaughton said he was called to the robbery and viewed CCTV footage which identified Chad Mitchell. He had seen Mitchell in the area 20 minutes before the incident when he was on foot patrol.
The footage showed Mitchell, who was 18 years old at the time, with socks on his hands and his face covered pushing his way behind the till and pressurising the shop assistant to open it.
He took €300 and left the area in a taxi and went across the border to Derry.
The second robbery took place at Café Donagh, Carndonagh on Sunday, June 7th.
The owner of the café told gardaí a man came into the premises and came behind the counter armed with a butter knife. He threatened him and took €200 from the till.
In an effort to escape he threw a chair against the front window. The inside pane of glass shattered but the outer one didn’t.
Mitchell attempted to jump through the window but bounced off the windowpane before leaving through the front door.
A local tried to detain him but he got away. Mitchell told gardaí he was stoned at the time.
Café owner Pascal Thomas told gardaí he was left shaken and terrified after the attack.
He said his partner felt very anxious at work in the café after the robbery and he was too afraid to have staff there alone in case it happened again.
He said he opened the café straight after the robbery but found it very hard to keep going.
On June 17th Mitchell entered a letting agent business on Oliver Plunkett Road in Letterkenny and threatened to stab a female member of staff unless she handed over cash.
Mitchell was not holding a weapon but had his hand behind his back and the woman told gardaí she was in fear of her safety.
Hiding in hot press
Garda Connaughton told the court Mitchell was located in his grandmother’s house on July 15th hiding in a hot press.
He made full and frank admissions.
Defence counsel Seán McGee said there was an element of the ridiculous about Mitchell's behaviour.
Mitchell told the court that he was sorry to everyone who was involved.
“I’m not trying to gloss over anything but I am sorry and it was a long time ago, I was in a bad place at the time.”
Mr McGee said Mitchell is a civil young man when not under the influence of substances.
He said he was just 18 years at the time and had openly admitted his guilt.
He was misusing drugs very heavily after leaving his mother's home and had made contact for the first time with his biological father for the first time.
Mitchell had a history of substance abuse and addiction and he had suffered from suicidal thoughts.
Judge John Aylmer said the robbery at the café was a very frightening experience for the owner.
He said Mitchell was facing two and a half years in prison.
He said the offences were committed almost three years ago but he had been reluctant to engage with services available to him to deal with his issues.
Probation services said he was at a high risk of reoffending because of the refusal to engage with the services available to him.
Judge Aylmer sentenced him to 20 months in prison for the Carndonagh robbery and imposed a sentence of 18 months on the other two robberies, with all sentences to run concurrently.