A man who stole €120,000 worth of jewellery during a “callous and frightening” robbery has been handed a three-year prison sentence.
Pierce McComiskey (44) returned to his hostel in Dublin City Centre after the robbery at Rocks Jewellers, Grafton Street on February 16th, 2022.
He was caught by gardaí shortly afterwards. McComiskey admitted he had stolen the jewellery, some of which he had hidden internally.
McComiskey, with an address at Peter Mc Verry Trust, St Stephens Green, Dublin 2, has 26 previous convictions, including some for robbery. He is serving a prison sentence on another matter.
Judge Orla Crowe said this would have been a “terrifying experience” for employees of the shop. McComiskey carried out the “callous and frightening” robbery in the presence of two female employees of the shop.
The judge imposed a sentence of three years and three months, with the final three months suspended on strict conditions, including that McComiskey places himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for 18 months post-release.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on the day in question, the accused came around the counter of the store, holding a knife, and demanded diamonds from a female employee.
There were no loose diamonds in the shop and instead, McComiskey took envelopes containing jewellery from a deposits drawer.
While McComiskey did not hold the knife towards the employee, she could not get away. She was afraid and unable to reach the panic button. Another female colleague was standing about 10ft from her colleague and was also scared.
Gardaí obtained CCTV from a nearby hostel and spotted McComiskey, who matched the description given by the jewellery shop employees.
McComiskey was not in his room, but gardaí found an orange backpack, a knife and envelopes used to store jewellery there.
The accused returned to his room and handed over three watches and a ring. He had managed to secrete the rest of the jewellery, including 31 rings, internally.
Gardaí took McComiskey to the hospital. All of the jewellery was recovered and returned to its owners.
McComiskey made full admissions and told gardaí he was addicted to crack cocaine. The judge noted that he had a period of sobriety between 2008 and 2019, but he relapsed following difficulties in his personal life.
While in custody, McComiskey has been attending drug counselling and is on 20ml of methadone. The judge noted that clean urine samples and a positive governor’s report had been submitted to the court.
She said while gardaí could not confirm that McComiskey had built up a drugs debt, it is accepted that this was a “crime of desperation”.
The judge also noted that McComiskey was on bail at the time of this offence, which she considered an aggravating factor.
She outlined other aggravating factors including the “considerable amount” of jewellery taken and the use of the knife.
The judge said this was a “planned and premeditated” incident, as McComiskey and others were seen by the shop’s staff scoping out the premises before the robbery. Gardaí also believe McComiskey was initially told to rob another shop, but this plan was abandoned.
In mitigation, the judge noted McComiskey’s expressions of remorse, his addiction problems and that the stolen jewellery was recovered. She also commended gardaí for their quick response to this incident.