Former youth soccer player remanded


A former youth soccer international who was the getaway driver for would-be robbers has been remanded in custody for sentence by Judge Frank O'Donnell. Det Garda Ray Monohan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the group fled empty-handed when one shop manager beat them off with cans of orange.

Christopher Zambra (24), a father of one, of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one charge each of robbery, attempted robbery and unauthorised use of a stolen car on dates in October and November 1995. He was remanded for sentence on December 3rd next.

Defence counsel Mr Alan Toal said his client's great ambition to represent Ireland at senior level had been cut short by a serious ankle injury. Before that he had told his mother: "I'll buy you a big house, ma, when I'm famous". He had been given a trial by a leading English club before his injury.

Mr Toal said his client spent a fair proportion of the £26,000 compensation he received for a car accident on his mother's house, despite what the probation report suggested. Zambra spent the rest of the compensation on heavy drugs and socialising after becoming involved with a bad crowd.

Det Garda Monohan told prosecuting counsel Ms Una Ni Raifeartaigh that three masked men wearing balaclavas and holding knives robbed about £250 after entering a shop on Galtymore Road and terrifying customers and staff on October 26th, 1995.

Zambra was the getaway driver then and on the following day when the gang failed in an attempted robbery of a supermarket in the same locality. The manager chased them out of the premises, throwing cans of orange at them.

Det Garda Monohan said he observed Zambra driving a stolen car on November 12th, 1995, and chased him in a patrol car. Zambra clipped another vehicle at Harold's Cross bridge. He arrested him.

Mr Toal said Zambra appreciated what he did was wrong. He was a serious heroin-user during the time the crimes were committed but was now clear of all drug abuse. He had become a father of a daughter to whom he was devoted. Zambra had become a soccer coach when his playing career ended.

Counsel pleaded for the case to be dealt with through a long suspended sentence. Zambra could get on with his life and put "energy into using his coaching skills". He was also in a position to take up a plumbing apprenticeship.