An armed robber who carried out dawn raids on shops and cafés has had 18 months cut from his jail time on appeal.
Luke Barrett (22), of St Michael’s Court, Watergate, Limerick city was originally jailed for eight years, with the final 18 months suspended, after he admitted threatening shop workers with a knife at various business premises across Co Limerick.
In the first incident, Barrett stole €340 from a family-owned shop in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, at around 6.20am on July 6th, 2017, after he entered the premises with a knife and threatened staff with the weapon.
He was on bail for the Newcastle West robbery when he walked into a service station in Locke Quay, Limerick city, at 7am on August 15th, 2018, and threatened staff with a knife, demanding they hand over the contents of the till to him.
He was forced to flee empty-handed, however, when a member of staff raised the alarm.
But minutes later he was holding up a nearby sandwich shop, using the same weapon, and escaped with €80.
At a sentence hearing, Judge Tom O’Donnell said both armed robberies merited two consecutive four-year terms. He suspended the eight-year total by 18 months.
Barrett was also given a two-year concurrent term for the attempted robbery charge.
He later appealed the sentence imposed at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court in February 2020 on the grounds it was too severe.
'Excessive and disproportionate'
At the Court of Appeal on Monday, Yvonne Quinn BL, for Barrett, said there had been “error in principle” by the judge when he handed down an aggregate sentence of eight years, with 18 months suspended.
She said the Newcastle West robbery was her client’s first-ever offence, he was only 17 when it was carried out, and therefore the four-year term for this offence had been “excessive and disproportionate”.
Her client’s main motivation to carry out the offences had been his drug habit, counsel added.
“Drugs were at the core, and root, of all his difficulties,” she said.
But he was now drug free and engaging with the Probation Service, Ms Quinn said.
Sinead Behan BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, however, told the court the appellant carried the second robbery while on bail for the first and that the sentence should stand.
Quashing the original four-year term for the first robbery, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy agreed that there had an error in principle by the sentencing judge and imposed a three-year term instead.
Mr Justice McCarthy, sitting with Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, also said the court was increasing the suspended portion of the original term from 18 months to two years.