The case of a crack addict who shot another man twice in the head is a “vivid illustration” of how things can go wrong when people become “enmeshed in criminality” through taking “so-called recreational drugs”, a judge has noted in passing a 10-year jail sentence on Monday.
The Central Criminal Court heard that the defendant, Sam Archbold (37), was under threat after failing to pay back a €2,000 debt. Archbold, with an address at Commons Road, Clondalkin in Dublin 22, pleaded guilty earlier this year to the attempted murder of Andrew O’Brien at Cherrywood Grove, Clondalkin in Dublin 22 on April 8th, 2022.
Mr O’Brien was hospitalised after suffering two gunshots to the face, which left him with a mouth full of shattered teeth and a hole in his throat.
A previous sentencing hearing heard Archbold was a passenger in Mr O’Brien’s car and had arranged to stop off under the pretext of collecting money to pay down a debt.
Andrew O’Brien said in his victim impact statement that he was shot in the face at close range while sitting in his car and that all of his teeth on the left side of his mouth were shattered and broken.
He said he has a large burn scar on his face and a hole remains down the side of his throat. “My speech is also affected as a result of my teeth and bone loss. I am forced to eat with the right side of my teeth all the time,” he said.
Passing sentence at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the case was a “particularly vivid” illustration of how far wrong things can go when people become “enmeshed in criminality” through taking “so-called recreational drugs”.
He said it remained a “sad fact” that the crime had inflicted permanent damage on Mr O’Brien.
Mr Justice Hunt noted that the maximum sentence for attempted murder was life in prison, with the lower range attracting a sentence of up to five years, the mid-range five to 10 years, the upper range 10 to 15 years and the truly egregious cases up to life.
Setting a headline sentence of 16 years for the offence, Mr Justice Hunt said he considered the “organised and deliberate” nature of this crime placed it in the “egregious category”.
The judge noted Archbold had the benefit of previous good character and was “not of particular interest” to the Garda before this incident. He said he thought it was likely the defendant became involved in the crime by way of “a chaotic and serious drug addiction”.
Mr Justice Hunt said Archbold was apparently homeless at the time of his arrest and said it was to his credit that he was able to work while in the throes of a serious drug habit. He said it was his view that Archbold’s plea of guilty, which was entered in March of this year, was the principal mitigating factor in the case.
He imposed a sentence of 12 years with the final two years suspended for a period of six years and backdated this to April 16th, 2022 when Archbold went into custody. He also imposed a one-year supervision order from the date of his release.
The court heard that the first bullet entered Mr O’Brien’s face below the left nostril and he suffered seven fractured teeth. Mr Fitzgerald said the victim had co-operated with gardaí in releasing his medical report but hadn’t provided a statement to gardaí.
Mr O’Brien’s father described the psychological impact on his son in a report read to the court and said Andrew was extremely depressed when he was discharged from St James’s Hospital. “He is attending the GP, he suffers on a regular basis from flashbacks and is constantly thinking how someone tried to take his life,” he said.
The victim said he cannot contemplate that someone planned to end his life by shooting him in the head and that he was forced to sell his car when it was returned to him, as he couldn’t bring himself to drive it again.
In his submissions to the court, defence counsel Seamus Clarke SC said his client accepted he had drug addiction problems and that his life was very chaotic in the six months before this offence, with things escalating quite quickly by taking crack cocaine. Archbold, he said, had received threats for not paying debts owed.