Sonya McLean & Brion Hoban
A man who dragged a retired doctor by her handbag as he was driving off in the victim’s car has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.
Patrick Doyle (36) was hiding behind the 72-year-old’s car when he opened the car door to steal the car keys. The woman spotted him and wrestled with him, but ultimately ran to get help.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Doyle drove for about 10 meters before he noticed the woman had a handbag in her hand, so he stopped the vehicle, got out and tried to take it from her. The woman again grappled with Doyle and refused to let go of the bag.
CCTV footage of the incident was played to the court, during which Doyle can be seen dragging the woman along the ground around the front of the car as she continues to hold onto her bag. He then gets into the car and tries to drive away as both he and the woman hold onto the strap of the bag.
The victim was dragged a little on the ground before she released her bag and rolled away from the car.
Doyle of Pigeon House Road, Ringsend, pleaded guilty to seizing a vehicle by force or threat and robbery of a handbag and its contents in Dublin 2, on October 11th, 2020.
He has 104 previous convictions which were all dealt with in the District Court, apart from one Circuit Court conviction for robbery.
Passing sentencing on Wednesday, Judge Melanie Greally said this was “undoubtedly a terrifying incident” for the victim. She said the potential for serious injury was “considerable” and the victim was “very fortunate” to have emerged with minor physical injuries.
Judge Greally said the accused was in the throes of “a significant addiction” to heroin and crack cocaine at the time adding that the offence was committed in order to fund that addiction.
She said that since going into custody, Doyle has brought about some very important changes in terms of his attitude. She noted that upon viewing CCTV of the incident, the accused was “deeply ashamed” of himself and expressed “considerable insight” into the likely impact on the victim.
The judge sentenced Doyle to seven years imprisonment, but suspended the final 18 months of the sentence on strict conditions.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Cian Fleming told Siobhán Ní Chúlacháin BL, prosecuting, that the victim, a retired GP, let go of the bag because she was terrified she was going to be run over.
He told the court the woman had unlocked her car and put her shopping bags and car keys on the front passenger seat before she went to the back of a car to remove a cone she had placed there to secure her parking space.
It was while she was removing the cone that Doyle came from his hiding spot and reached into the front seat to take the keys.
Det Gda Fleming said a doctor, who was cycling to work, heard the woman shouting for help and came to her assistance. An ambulance and Gardaí were alerted, but the victim was not seriously injured, apart from some minor bruising.
She gave gardaí a description of the culprit and Det Gda Fleming said his colleagues stopped a man fitting that description a short distance away. He was still driving the victim’s car, containing the woman’s property.
Det Gda Fleming said the woman did not make a victim impact statement, but was terrified that she was going to be killed during the incident.
Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, told the court his client wished to pass his apologies onto the victim.
“He is devastated to find himself in a position that his drug offence led him to a point where he would commit an offence such as this,” Mr Le Vert said after telling the court that Doyle has reduced his methadone intake in prison and is working with a drug counsellor.
Mr Le Vert said his client was homeless at the time of the offence and was abusing heroin, crack cocaine and tablets. He said his client aims to come off methadone entirely while in custody.