A drop of blood from a syringe fell on to the counter of a shop as a raider threatened to stab the shopkeeper in a spree of crimes carried out by two brothers.
In another crime carried out in the 19-minute spree across four different Cork city shops the raider held a syringe and demanded the contents of the till saying, “I’m not looking for no trouble.
"I don’t want to use the dirty pin. Just open it, open it.”
Garda Brian Barron gave evidence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the sentencing hearing for Darren and Eugene Rice who were living at hostel accommodation for the homeless in Cork city at the time.
All four crimes relate to March 28 this year. They admitted robbery of €730 in cash at Daybreak on North Main Street and attempted robberies at The Offie on Douglas Street, Costcutters on Washington Street, and Costello’s on Shandon Street.
At Costello’s the raider had something in his right hand and pointed it at the shop assistant as he mumbled something that sounded like, “Give me €50.”
The assistant said it was outside the shop and she managed to get out on the street and run to safety. At first the raider followed her but gave up and ran away when passers-by intervened to protect the woman.
At Daybreak on North Main Street the threat was made about the dirty pin and they got away with €730 from the till.
A short time earlier a raider demanded €50 at Costcutters and also turned up at The Offie on Douglas Street where the threat was made: “Give me the money or I will stab you. Give me money or I will spray you.”
As one brother went in the other kept lookout. They also passed the syringe from one to the other, swapped jackets as they walked down the street and as Judge Helen Boyle said, “They acted in a joint enterprise.”
31-year-old Darren Rice of St. Vincent’s Hostel, Anglesea Terrace, Cork, and 28-year-old Eugene Rice of Oscar’s hostel, Glanmire Road, Cork, had the four charges in common, namely a robbery and three attempted robberies.
Darren Rice had more extensive previous convictions. He is presently serving a three-year sentence for another robbery. The judge imposed a consecutive three-year sentence for the latest crimes but said this new three-year sentence would be suspended from when he completes the three years he is serving.
As for Eugene Rice, who had no previous robbery conviction, a two-year sentence was imposed, consecutive to one year he is already serving. The second year of the new sentence was suspended.
Emmet Boyle, barrister for Darren Rice, said the accused came from North County Cork and became addicted to heroin and was reliant on homeless services in Cork city.
Alison McCarthy, barrister for Eugene Rice, said her client was under such pressure to pay a drugs debt that he recently had his face slashed and was put in protective custody in prison. He apologised for his crimes.
Judge Boyle said, “This was a spree around the city centre of robberies you carried out in 19 or 20 minutes.”
The judge said an aggravating factor was the threat to stab shop assistants or to spray them with blood from a syringe.
“Another aggravating factor is the interference with people doing a lawful day’s work.
People should be able to work in safe conditions and people should visit the city centre without fear of robbery,” Judge Boyle said.