Man jailed after robbing Cork pharmacy and escaping Garda station

Anthony O’Sullivan (34) sentenced to three and a half years with 12 months suspended

Anthony O’Sullivan, from Araglen Court, Deanrock Estate in Togher, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to robbery at the AllCare Pharmacy, Douglas Road, on March 6th, 2021. File photograph: Allcare Pharmacy

Anthony O’Sullivan, from Araglen Court, Deanrock Estate in Togher, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to robbery at the AllCare Pharmacy, Douglas Road, on March 6th, 2021. File photograph: Allcare Pharmacy

 

Robberies that take just minutes can often have impacts that last months or years for their victims, a judge said as he jailed a man with almost 500 previous convictions to three years in jail for the robbery of a pharmacy.

Anthony O’Sullivan (34), from Araglen Court, Deanrock Estate in Togher, Co Cork, was sentenced to a further six months in jail for escaping Togher Garda station through a window.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was clear that robberies have a long-lasting effect, following the victim impact statements of two staff at AllCare Pharmacy in Douglas which was robbed by O’Sullivan in March.

“These robberies do have an effect on people – it can be seen from the CCTV footage that this robbery only lasted a few minutes but one of the victims tells in her victim impact statement that it felt like it went on for an eternity.

“She won’t work late shifts as a result of this and the other lady says in her victim impact statement she has difficulty sleeping and it has caused huge emotional damage even though she considers herself to be very resilient.”

The judge was commenting after O’Sullivan pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at the AllCare Pharmacy, Douglas Road, on March 6th, 2021.

O’Sullivan admitted robbing the pharmacist of 2,000 prescription-only tablets including Halycion, Gerax, Xanax, Viagra and Alprazolam, worth €500 altogether, contrary to Section 14 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

Det Garda Tom Delaney of Douglas Garda station told the court that O’Sullivan arrived at the pharmacy at 9.55pm – just five minutes before closing – and asked the pharmacy assistant for birth control before producing a knife.

He threatened the two staff members on duty and demanded they hand over Xanax, Halycion and other prescription medicines before also grabbing some Viagra and leaving the shop, said the garda.

O’Sullivan was captured on CCTV carrying out the robbery, which lasted two minutes and 20 seconds, and was seen fleeing in a silver Ford Focus which was found in Mahon. He was arrested about three hours later.

Det Garda Delaney said that O’Sullivan made full admissions during an interview at Togher Garda station and told gardaí that he carried out the robbery to pay off a drugs debt after he was sent a photo of a bullet and a photo of his partner’s front door.

O’Sullivan told interviewing gardaí: “I am really sorry. I did not want to do it. I am in a Catch-22. I owe money. They told me to clear it by getting the tablets. I was sent pictures of a bullet and of my girlfriend’s house. I am sorry.”

Escape

Det Garda Delaney said that O’Sullivan asked to go to the toilet early on the morning of March 8th at Togher Garda station and managed to escape out a window, but he was captured hiding in a shed in Ballyphehane 40 minutes later.

He said that O’Sullivan had a total of 495 previous convictions including ones for robbery, attempted robbery and burglary as well as many for driving offences, and he accepted that O’Sullivan had a serious drug problem.

Defence barrister Paula McCarthy said her client had written a letter of apology to his victims in which he indicated he was pleading guilty so they knew early on that they would not have to go through the trauma of a trial.

She said that O’Sullivan started taking drugs at the age of 13 and started on heroin aged 15. She asked the judge to take into account his early plea of guilty and to be as lenient as possible in sentencing.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said a robbery such as that perpetrated by O’Sullivan had “real, lasting consequences for people who are trying to earn a living and provide a service to the people” and that had to be taken into account.

He said he accepted that O’Sullivan had a serious drugs problem but the issue seemed to be that he had a pattern of doing well in prison and being compliant in becoming drug-free, only to go off the rails when he was released.

He said taking into account his guilty pleas to both the robbery and escape charges, he would sentence O’Sullivan to three years in jail for the robbery and six months consecutive for the escape, which he would suspend for 12 months.