British criminal gets two years and six months for robbing Australian backpackers

Two Australian backpackers said they would never come to Dublin again after two British criminals broke into their apartment, threatened to cut them up and robbed them, a court heard.

Wayne Jones (aged 35), a British panel-beater, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing €1,050 in cash and a mobile phone worth €150 from a flat on Lower Gardiner Street on January 9, 2007. Jones, who repaired yachts, gave no address to gardaí.

Anthony Ward, Netherson, Liverpool, had already been jailed for two years for the offence, after earlier pleading guilty.

Detective Garda Michelle Kelly told Mr Cormac Quinn BL, prosecuting, that Sarah Robbins and her partner, who were backpacking around the world, were asleep in their flat when they heard the front door being forced.

Ms Robbins’ partner said that a sizeable man in the doorway told him he lived there and that he had "another guy outside and four or five around the corner". This was Ward.

Det. Kelly said that Jones then entered the room where Ms Robbins was sleeping, while Ward started to look for money and threatened them.

The detective said they gave him a purse but Ward emptied it onto the floor, saying he didn’t want coins.

"We’ll cut you up. We’ll stab you," threatened Jones, who had 78 previous convictions.

Det. Kelly said the victim offered to go to the ATM, thinking this would get them out, but one of the criminals said he would stay with Sarah Robbins and "If anything happens, I’ll cut her throat".

They then gave them their entire savings, €1,050, but Jones still wanted to stay, she said. The victim managed to get them out, and gardaí arrested them and recovered the stolen property shortly afterwards. Jones has been in custody since.

A victim impact statement was handed into court in which Sarah Robbins said she was fearful for their lives. The couple cut short their stay in Ireland and said they never wanted to return to Dublin.

Det. Kelly said Jones had spent time behind bars in the UK and had convictions for possessing offensive weapons, assaulting a police officer, burglaries, affray, resisting arrest, intimidating witnesses, dangerous and drunk driving, possessing drugs and others.

"It’s an impressive CV," said Judge Frank O’Donnell.

Mr John Fitzgerald BL, defending, said Jones had arrived in Ireland a few days earlier and was staying in a hostel on Gardiner Street while looking for work. He had spent the previous day drinking with Ward, who he followed into the victims’ flat, where Ward said he was going to get money from a friend.

"At one stage, when in her room, he put his arm around Sarah Robbins and said everything was going to be all right," said Mr Fitzgerald

Det. Kelly agreed that the victims said Jones played "a lesser role", that "the smaller guy seemed to be copying the bigger guy".

Mr Fitzgerald said his client had no ties in Ireland and had received no visitors in jail. His mother abandoned the family when he was 13 and his father was an alcoholic. He was in care as a teenager and ended up on the streets.

"I feel sorry for him and his background," said Judge O’Donnell. "But he was saying he’d cut them up and the couple got out of Ireland as quickly as possible."

He sentenced him to two years and six months, backdating it to the day he went into custody.


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