Gardaí stopped an armed man minutes before he was to rob €60,000 from a home in the Phoenix Park, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.
Herman White, a heroin addict, was instructed to carry out the robbery by his drug dealers because he owed them €20,000. He was sentenced to eight years by Judge Katherine Delahunt for possession of the weapon as well as a string of house burglaries.
The court heard White (aged 32) had was involved in a high-speed chase on the M1 motorway after stealing a Mercedes from one of the houses. The pursuit ended when he crashed into a chasing garda car, fracturing the garda’s wrist.
White of Corduff Park, Blanchardstown pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun on Chesterfield Avenue, Dublin 8 on May 20, 2009 and car theft, dangerous driving and three counts of burglary in the Malahide area on May 25, 2005.
Garda Robert Byrne told prosecuting counsel, Noel Devitt BL, that he was on patrol in the Phoenix Park one night when he saw a man in car acting suspiciously. When he drove up behind, it sped off and he drove after it.
After a short chase the car crashed into a tree and White got out and started running. As he ran he threw away a revolver and a balaclava. He was caught by Gda Byrne after a short chase.
After his arrest he told gardaí he owed €20,000 to a group for drugs. To pay it back they had given him the gun and told him to call to a house in the park. He was to show the occupants the gun and say, “I know you’ve got €60,000 under the table.”
He said he had only been given the gun once he got into the Phoenix Park and he did not know it was loaded. He said he never intended to hurt anyone and was not going to point the gun during the robbery.
A test of the revolver showed it to be in fair condition and capable of firing shots but had several defects. It had two bullets loaded, one of which was in the firing position.
Four years later, White carried out three burglaries on three houses in the Malahide area in the course of a single night.
He stole jewellery and a camera from one house and a set of keys for a Mercedes from another.
He escaped in the car and became involved in a high speed chase with gardaí when they were alerted.
After the crash, all the proceeds of the thefts were discovered on White and returned to the owners.
In interview he said he never intended to hit the garda car or hurt the driver and claimed he had stolen the car because he wanted to get home.
Defence counsel, Mr John Byrne BL, said White was a chronic heroin addict who had sought treatment unsuccessfully in the past. The court heard he has 48 previous convictions including four firearms convictions and four for burglary.
Mr Byrne said his client had a chaotic upbringing and was homeless at 14-years-old. He said he had spent most of his adult life in prison.
Judge Delahunt noted he had not violently confronted anyone during any of the offences but was “very close to doing so.” She commented that there was real danger of him becoming institutionalised if he did not rehabilitate himself. She suspended the final two years of the term for four years on strict conditions.