A man who demanded money at the home of a garda, while looking for another person, has been handed a two-year prison sentence.
Charlie Cunningham (24), of Kelly's Bay Heights, Skerries, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to demanding money with menace at an address in Donabate, Dublin, on January 1st, 2021.
Imposing a two-year sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan said this was a “very serious crime”.
Garda Sean McIllroy told the court that Cunningham knocked on the door of the house at 4.30pm, and asked for a certain individual. The defendant left after the injured party told him this person didn't live there.
Cunningham returned shortly afterwards and asked again for this person. The injured party told him they didn't live there.
The defendant said it would be better if the injured party told him if this person was there as he owed him money. He said there was a group of men nearby who would break doors and windows.
The homeowner then identified himself as a garda and asked Cunningham for his name. As Cunningham left the property, he told the injured party “now I know you're a garda, you're cooked”.
The injured party followed Cunningham to the end of the road, and saw a group of six or seven men waiting. He then contacted gardaí.
A victim impact statement was handed to the court, but not read aloud.
Cunningham was arrested. During interview, he accepted speaking to the injured party and apologised. The defendant told gardaí he had “said some stupid things” as he wanted to put “bit of fear” in him.
Footage recorded on a door camera at the property was played to the court. Cunningham has eight previous convictions, including one for assault causing harm.
Gda McIllroy agreed with defence counsel that his client co-operated with gardaí and apologised during interview.
Defence counsel said his client instructs that another individual owed money after damaging windows and that was the motivation for this incident. Gda McIllroy said he wasn't aware of this.
Cunningham's mother gave evidence on his behalf. She said she had instilled good behaviour in her son and that he had taken a wrong turn.
Cunningham is working and in a long-term relationship. Defence counsel said his client had entered an early guilty plea, cooperated with gardai and identified himself on CCTV.
He said this is a “ugly” set of circumstances and asked the court to give his client the benefit of the doubt in terms of his motivation.
Judge Nolan said he took into consideration the mitigation, which included Cunningham's guilty plea. He said the court would require “almost perfect mitigation” to consider a non-custodial sentence, but this was not available due to the defendant's previous convictions.