A man has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing a handbag, during which its owner was dragged alongside a car.
erard Hughes (25) of Kilmartin Park, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of endangerment at Crumlin Road on July 28, 2019.
Hughes got out of the passenger seat of a car and took the victim’s purse. She resisted and was dragged alongside the car down a road, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Imposing a sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said it was ‘robbery’.
“Dragging someone down the street like he and the other man did is serious business.”
He imposed a four-year sentence for the robbery count, with the endangerment count considered.
CCTV of the incident was shown in court, the footage showing a white car stopping next to the victim, who was standing on the sidewalk.
Hughes then got out of the passenger seat and grabbed the woman’s bag. She resisted, trying to hold on to her bag as Hughes got back into the car. The vehicle drove off and dragged the woman alongside it for 30 meters.
Garda John Henehan told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that the victim tried to keep his bag because it contained valuables, including his passport. These objects were never recovered. Several people witnessed the theft and the victim was dragged alongside the car.
A medical report was handed over to the court, stating that the victim suffered abrasions, scratches and a chipped tooth.
Gda Henehan said the victim refused to make an impact statement because she wanted to forget about the incident.
Hughes was later arrested by gardaí in connection with the incident. He made no admissions during the interview, but said he had taken valium and cocaine at the time.
Hughes is currently serving a two and a half year sentence. He has several previous convictions, including for possession of stolen property and traffic violations. A breakdown of his previous convictions was given to Judge Nolan, but was not read out in court.
Gda Henehan agreed with Sarah-Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, that Hughes’ guilty plea was valuable to the prosecution and that his client had been courteous in his interactions with gardaí.
The garda investigator said he was unaware of Hughes’ family history, but admitted that Hughes’ drug addiction was the root of his offence.
Ms O’Callaghan told the investigating guard that her client was struggling to watch the CCTV footage and was embarrassed by his actions. Gda Henehan agreed with Ms O’Callaghan that Hughes seemed to show remorse for his actions during the incident.
Ms O’Callaghan said the breach appeared to have been “very opportunistic”.
“No one could have foreseen the bravery of the victim” who “hung on for life,” Ms O’Callaghan said.
Judge Nolan noted that Hughes could have dropped the victim’s bag.
Ms O’Callaghan said her client had no recollection of those events, but told her legal team he would not seek trial on those charges.
His client has substance abuse issues and wants residential treatment.
She told the court that Hughes’ brother was murdered as a child and an attempt was also made to kill his father.
His client had been diagnosed with ADHD and a report was filed in court on his behalf.
Hughes’ partner, who is pregnant with his second child, and his sister were present in court to support him.
Ms O’Callaghan said Hughes was a talented footballer with a scholarship to Shamrock Rovers, but an injury sent him “down the drug route”.
A letter of apology from Hughes was also delivered to the court. Ms O’Callaghan said her client wanted to issue a ‘deep apology’ and asked Judge Nolan to be as lenient as possible.
Judge Nolan said it would have been a “frightening, terrifying and traumatic experience” for the victim.
He noted that Hughes had a “relevant and serious” conviction record.
Taking into account the mitigating factors, Judge Nolan imposed a four-year sentence consecutive to the sentence that Hughes is currently serving.