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Man (21) who threatened cafe staff with a syringe during robbery jailed for three years

Rainis Koovit (21) brandished a syringe when attempting to grab a tip jar in Kaph Cafe in Drury Street, Dublin.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A MAN WHO threatened a barista with a syringe and claimed he was HIV-positive during a robbery at a cafe has been sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Rainis Koovit (21) brandished a syringe when attempting to grab a tip jar in Kaph Cafe in Drury Street, Dublin.

He told a frightened employee he would “stick it into her” if she tried to stop him, before making off with €20 worth of foreign currency, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Koovit of Bru Hostel, Thomas St, Dublin, pleaded guilty to robbery of cash and to producing a syringe with intent to cause injury or intimidate on 27 February 2017.

Judge Karen O’Connor said the fact he was on bail and had been ordered to stay out of the Dublin 2 area was an aggravating factor.

Garda Padraig McMahon told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that Koovit was at the cafe hours prior to the incident and decided to leave because the cafe was too full.

He went to Merchants Quay drug rehabilitation centre and obtained a syringe, before returning to the cafe where he tried to grab the tip jar but found that it was chained to the countertop.

After threatening the barista with the syringe, he grabbed a few foreign bank notes from the counter and fled the premises. He was pursued by a male staff member who failed to catch him.

The syringe was not believed to have been infected with HIV, the court heard. The foreign currency was worth about €20.

Neither of the cafe employees gave a victim impact statement. They told gardaí they were extremely fearful during the incident.

The court heard he had used the name Stephen McCormack in the past and has 10 previous convictions under that alias including theft and possession of drugs.

Defence barrister, Luigi Rea BL, said his client moved to Ireland from Estonia when he was a child and lived in Kerry and Laois for a time.

He started using cannabis aged 14 and began using heroin after moving to Dublin when he was 17.

Judge O’Connor said that Koovit was being given credit for his early guilty plea, his admissions and his apologies to the victims. She noted that he is a chronic drug addict with a chaotic lifestyle.

However, she said the seriousness of the offence must be marked and sentenced him to three years imprisonment with one year suspended.

She said he must liaise with the probation services on his release, avail of all educational and employment services suggested to him by them and also take steps to address his drug addiction.

“He is only 21 years old and that’s a factor in this case, but if he breaches any condition at all I won’t hesitate to impose the rest of his sentence,” she said.

Read: The DUP party has collapsed power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin says >

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Isabel Hayes and Sarah-Jane Murphy

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