Thief disguised in wig and sunglasses gets 5½ years for robbery

Robbery of McDonald’s, Liffey Valley, Clondalkin, to feed serial offender’s drug habit

Defending counsel said Anthony Sweeney could not elevate his status to become an enhanced prisoner as all inmates were now in 23-hour lock-up. File photograph: The Irish Times

Defending counsel said Anthony Sweeney could not elevate his status to become an enhanced prisoner as all inmates were now in 23-hour lock-up. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

A thief who donned a wig and sunglasses while robbing his local McDonald’s fast-food restaurant has been jailed for 5½ years.

After his arrest Anthony Sweeney (37) of St Marks Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin, told gardaí­ he was trying to feed his drug habit.

Sweeney pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of McDonald’s, Liffey Valley, Clondalkin, on August 5th last (2019). He also admitting robbery at the same restaurant a month later. He has 35 previous convictions, including for robbery and carrying a firearm with criminal intent.

The court heard that Sweeney had been attending school while in custody but the school had been closed due to coronavirus.

Passing sentence on Tuesday, Judge Melanie Greally said the offences were aggravated by the use of a knife, the fact that during one of the offences the knife was placed to one of the victim’s throats and the last offence being committed while Sweeney was on bail.

The judge said she took into consideration his pleas of guilty, admissions to gardaí, history of drug addiction, efforts to address that dependency and his role caring for his father.

She sentenced him to 7½ years imprisonment, but suspended the final two on strict conditions including that he follow all directions of the Probation Service for six months prior to his release and 12 months after release.

Det Garda Kevin O’Connor told Kieran Kelly, prosecuting, that Sweeney, wearing a wig and sunglasses, robbed a staff member after approaching the counter at McDonald’s, Liffey Valley. He was chased by gardaí­ as he cycled away and the wig, glasses and €450 were recovered.

Det Garda O’Connor agreed with Sweeney’s lawyer that his disguise was of little use and he was easily identifiable.

The following month Sweeney threatened a staff member at the same branch of McDonald’s with an iron bar. The manager attempted to stop him leaving but Sweeney pushed him out of the way.

He was identified on CCTV and arrested.

Sweeney also pleaded guilty to robbery of a nail salon on Collinstown Road and of a pedestrian on the Liffey Valley footbridge on May 27th, 2019. He was armed with a blade when demanding money from staff in the salon.

Highly intoxicated

Later that day a man crossing the footbridge at Liffey Valley was robbed by a several people, one of whom had a knife which was put to the victim’s neck.

Prosecuting gardaí agreed with Nicola Cox, defending, that Sweeney was in the throes of drug addiction and struggling to feed his habit. They agreed he was highly intoxicated at the time of the robberies and made admissions after arrest.

Det Garda O’Connor agreed Sweeney was a carer for his father and was under so much strain that he had asked to go into custody and was genuinely remorseful.

Ms Cox said her client had suffered a brain injury. She said she accepted that he was at a high risk of reoffending and said he needed the tools to assist him to become a productive member of society.

She said her client had been attending school while in custody, but that school had closed as a result of coronavirus.

She said he could not elevate his status to become an enhanced prisoner as all prisoners were now in 23-hour lock-up.