SHOP assistants in two shops in Cork city centre were subjected to the terror of a masked man brandishing a knife and demanding money.
Judge Dara Hayes said the experience of the two employees must have been frightening and terrifying.
At Cork Circuit Criminal Court, the judge imposed a five-year sentence on Leigh O’Keeffe, who was living in hostel accommodation, with the last 18 months suspended.
Garda Darren Twomey outlined the background to the offences, which consisted of an attempted robbery and an actual robbery at shops in Cork city centre on September 17, 2021.
The first incident related to Wicked Vapes on Oliver Plunkett St.
At 6.20pm a man with a baseball cap and mask produced a knife from his sleeve and demanded cash. The woman working in the shop refused to hand over cash.
Minutes later he turned up at Twilight News on St Patrick’s Street, where a shop assistant was put in fear in similar circumstances and forced to hand over €130 from the till by a raider wearing a baseball cap and a mask while brandishing a knife.
Gardaí were alerted and a description was circulated to officers working in the area at that time.
Garda Twomey identified the accused at the bus station on Parnell Place at 7pm that evening and arrested him.
The 29-year-old pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and robbery.
Among his previous convictions, he had seven convictions for burglary, 11 for theft, and one for assault.
He had no previous convictions for robbery.
O’Keeffe was only released from prison seven days prior to these incidents, after serving an earlier sentence.
Brian Leahy said the accused had a history of psychiatric illness and this was compounded by addiction difficulties.
Judge Hayes asked what drugs the accused was addicted to and Mr Leahy said the defendant was addicted to alcohol, heroin, and prescription tablets.
Judge Hayes said it must have been a terrifying and frightening experience for two people going about their employment in the city centre.
He said that to see a man brandishing a knife while his face was covered can only have added to the terror experienced by the shop assistants.