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Man who robbed service station and threatened to stab garda jailed for two years

Ciaran O’Brien, who robbed the Celbridge service station while wearing tights on his head, pleaded guilty to all three charges.

Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

AN ARMED MAN who robbed his local service station while wearing tights on his head before threatening to stab an off-duty garda has been jailed for two years.

Ciaran O’Brien (37) then jumped into his car and drove straight at Garda PJ Cummins. The garda, who is one year from retirement, had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over. 

O’Brien of St Patrick’s Park, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to robbing the Applegreen Service Station at Celbridge on 27 November 2019. He also pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill Garda PJ Cummins and dangerous driving at Laurel Grove, Celbridge.

Passing sentencing today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Karen O’Connor said O’Brien was homeless at the time and known to gardaí, but was not known to be violent or aggressive.

Judge O’Connor said the offence was aggravated by O’Brien being armed and disguised during the robbery. She said the garda should not have been exposed to this kind of behaviour.

She sentenced O’Brien to three-and-a-half years imprisonment but suspended the final 18 months of the sentence on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for 12 months.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Daniel Lyons told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that O’Brien went into his local service station armed with a hammer and a knife, described in court as a “small machete”.

He ordered the shop assistant to open the till before he took €360 in cash and fled the scene.

Garda Cummins, who is due to retire next year, was off-duty at the time and witnessed the robbery. He recognised O’Brien from the local area and waited until he had left the service station before giving chase. 

O’Brien threatened him several times, saying: “Get away from me or I’ll fucking stab you,” but Garda Cummins carried on chasing him until O’Brien got into a nearby car. O’Brien then drove the car straight at the garda, causing him to jump out of the way. 

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Garda Cummins managed to take down O’Brien’s car registration. He described himself as being “shocked at the level of violence” from O’Brien but he declined to make a victim impact statement.

O’Brien was arrested shortly afterwards. He has 27 previous convictions.

John Costello BL, defending, said his client was a drug addict who, at the time of the offence, was effectively homeless and living in shared accommodation with a number of other men.

He became addicted to heroin in the wake of a traumatic childhood and has been hospitalised a number of times for self-harming, the court heard.

Garda Lyons agreed with Costello that he had known O’Brien as an addict in the area but that it was most unlike him to act violently.

About the author:

Isabel Hayes and Brian Hoban

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