Pensioner took keys from getaway car while man robbed gift store

Barrister says James Gleeson ‘didn’t display a particular expertise in the offence’

The keys were removed from the ignition of a thief’s getaway car while he held up Bunratty, Co Clare a gift store with a bayonet knife and stole €128 in cash, a court has heard. Image: Google streetview

The keys were removed from the ignition of a thief’s getaway car while he held up Bunratty, Co Clare a gift store with a bayonet knife and stole €128 in cash, a court has heard. Image: Google streetview

 

The keys were removed from the ignition of a thief’s getaway car while he held up Co Clare a gift store with a bayonet knife and stole €128 in cash, a court has heard.

James Gleeson (32) appeared before Ennis Circuit Court on Wednesday over the incident on February 15th last outside The Blarney Woollen Mills in Bunratty, during which he wore household Marigold gloves and a balaclava.

Gleeson left his car running but a pensioner who was having lunch at the nearby Creamery pub crossed the road and removed the keys after hearing a robbery was taking place.

Garda Pat Harte said Gleeson, of Kilnasoola Park, Newmarket on Fergus, got into his car and discovered the keys were gone and “started to shake the steering wheel”. He got out of the car and asked onlookers who had taken the keys before making off on foot.

The man (67) who removed the keys gave chase with other witnesses and Gleeson was arrested by gardaí minutes later.

Judge Gerald Keys said that only for the quick thinking and bravery of the man who took the keys, Gleeson may not have been caught.

He jailed Gleeson for three years with the final year suspended after he pleaded guilty to robbery and producing a knife.

‘Desperation’

In a letter read out in court by his barrister Brian McInerney, Gleeson said: “I am not a criminal mastermind. I am just an addict who acted out of desperation, but I know there is no excuse for my actions.”

Mr McInerney said his client “didn’t display a particular expertise in the offence” and effectively put a flashing light over his head saying “I’m up to no good” by driving to the door, leaving his car running and entering the establishment wearing Marigold gloves.

Inside the Meadows and Byrne store, Gleeson told staff “I promise no one will get hurt if you just open the till”. He tried to do so with his knife but failed. A staff member then obliged and Gleeson made off with €128.

Gleeson, who has 11 previous convictions, apologised to Meadows & Byrne staff for the upset and fear caused by his actions.

Mr McInerney said “is a chronic heroin addict who was forced into doing this”.

“He owed money to wicked and evil people involved in drug dealing who effectively instructed him to do this. He would have been in genuine fear for his safety if he had complied with this order.”

Judge Keys said he did not believe prison was the place to go for a recovering addict but that his “hands are tied” due to the lack of addiction centres.