Three years for handbag thief who broke woman’s finger

Mark Dwyer (41) smashed victim’s car window at Dolphin’s Barn and grabbed bag

Mark Dwyer, of Dolphin House, Rialto, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery.

Mark Dwyer, of Dolphin House, Rialto, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery.


A robber has been sentenced to three years in prison after he broke a woman’s finger when he smashed the window of the car she was driving and grabbed her handbag.

Mark Dwyer (41) took a handbag containing €920 in cash when he broke into the car his victim, Christine Pollard, was driving, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard at an earlier sentence hearing last February.

Dwyer, of Dolphin House, Rialto, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of robbing Ms Pollard at Dolphin’s Barn on October 1st last year. He has 106 previous convictions, including assaults, misuse of drugs, burglaries, and possession of a weapon. In 2013, he was jailed for three years for a number of offences, including possession of a firearm.

Judge Martina Baxter sentenced Dwyer to three years in prison with the final 18 months suspended.

She said Ms Pollard had not only suffered psychologically but also physically and had experienced “sentimental losses” with the theft of her handbag. The judge said the robbery took place in Dwyer’s locality, in full public view when the woman was stopped at traffic lights.

She said he was easily recognised and while she accepted he had pleaded guilty, she said a jury would have most likely convicted him because of the strength of the evidence against him.

Appalling and terrible

Judge Baxter described it as “an appalling and terrible offence” and said there was violence involved because of Dwyer’s determination in seizing the handbag as Ms Pollard tried to hold onto her property.

She accepted that his remorse and shame was genuine but said he could have let go of the handbag at any time “as it was not his property”.

Judge Baxter noted that Dwyer had progressed in rehabilitating from his drug addiction and said that he seemed to respond well to structure. She suspended the final 18 months of the sentence on the condition that he engage with The Probation Service for two years.

Garda Ian Foley told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Ms Pollard was driving through the area and her car was stopped when Dwyer appeared on the passenger side, smashed the window and leaned in to grab her handbag.

Ms Pollard held on to the bag and a tussle ensued before Dwyer made off with the handbag. Ms Pollard sustained a broken ring finger during the exchange.

A witness to the robbery recognised Dwyer as a customer in the local supermarket where she worked and identified him to gardaí­.

Dwyer’s DNA matched blood taken from Ms Pollard’s car.

A victim impact statement was handed up to court. The court heard Ms Pollard’s finger was in a splint for 16 weeks and she continues to get treatment.

She said she now felt vulnerable when she was alone in her car and was suspicious of others. The total value of goods stolen from her was €990, including her handbag, sunglasses and cash. None of it was recovered.

Defence barrister, Michael Hourigan BL, said his client had a long-standing drug addiction since he was a young man.

He said that after Dwyer was released in 2015, he did well for a while. However, at the time of this offence he had relapsed into drug use following a bout of pneumonia. He had been in custody since the robbery and had been using his time well in custody, Mr Hourigan said.