Robber jailed for holding up a shop with a butter knife

Lee O'Brien (35) had his knife taken away from him by staff during the “somewhat amateurish” attempted robbery
Robber jailed for holding up a shop with a butter knife

Brion Hoban

A man who failed to steal money from a shop after threatening staff with a butter knife has been jailed for three years and nine months.

Lee O'Brien (35) had his knife taken away from him by staff during the “somewhat amateurish” attempted robbery, but later succeeded in stealing the till from another shop after threatening a staff member.

O'Brien, of Reuben Walk, Rialto, Dublin 8, was convicted by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of attempted robbery at Centra, Drimnagh Road, Crumlin, and of robbery at Spar, Walkinstown Roundabout, Crumlin on April 23rd, 2018. He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He has 175 previous convictions, including convictions for robbery, theft, handling stolen property, possession drugs for sale or supply, criminal damage and road traffic offences.

Passing sentence on Friday, Judge Martin Nolan said there was no actual violence in either of the offences, but the threat of violence was present in both.

The judge said O'Brien has a very serious record of conviction, but he took into account the fact he wants to rehabilitate. He said he would give O'Brien some credit for his co-operation in the trial process.

Judge Nolan sentenced O'Brien to three years and nine months imprisonment.

Detective Garda Kevin O'Shaughnessy told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, O'Brien entered the Centra shouting at a staff member to open the till and give him “all the notes”, but the till was frozen mid-transaction and could not be opened.

Knife threats

Gda O'Shaughnessy said O'Brien jumped over the counter and pointed a knife at two members of staff. They managed to get the knife off of O'Brien and he left the shop without taking anything.

Judge Nolan commented that the knife was “a butter knife by all accounts; a frightening instrument”.

Gda O'Shaughnessy said that shortly thereafter, O'Brien entered the Spar with a small knife in hand and shouted at the man working there to open the till. The man did not do so, but O'Brien jumped over the counter, took the till and ran off.

O'Brien got into a car and drove away with the till, which contained between €260 and €300. Gardaí later tracked the car to outside his girlfriend's house.

Gda O'Shaughnessy agreed with Karl Monahan BL, defending, that the first offence was “somewhat amateurish” in its execution.

Mr Monahan said his client has two children with whom he has an ongoing relationship. He said his client resides in his father's house with two of his sisters.

Counsel said his client began taking drugs around age 16 or 17, which led to him taking heroin. He said his client is on methadone in custody and asked the judge to structure the sentence to allow him to take up residential treatment upon his release.

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