A heroin addict who was responsible for a number of crimes in Dublin over 10 months, including an unprovoked attack on a Slovakian man, has been sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Katherine Delahunt.
Anthony Burnett (aged 29) robbed two pharmacies in two months with "the primary objective of getting drugs for his own personal use". He was on bail for two earlier offences when he carried out these raids.
Burnett with an address at Croke Villas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm, burglary, and the two robberies on dates between August 11, 2007 and May 20, 2008.
His 30 previous convictions, the first of which was recorded when he was eight years old, including robbery, theft and an escape from lawful custody.
The court heard that Burnett attacked a Slovakian national in Ballybough as he was on his way home from a night out.
The accused tackled the man to the ground and bit him on the left side of his face. The victim later attended at accident and emergency but left before he was treated.
Ms Caroline Biggs BL, defending, said that by nine years old Burnett was experimenting with cannabis and by 13 he was using heroin but he is now drug free.
She said he was sexually abused as a young teenager and has been awarded costs at a recent Residential Institutions Redress Board hearing.
Judge Delahunt said that she could not ignore Burnett’s "very serious criminal past" but accepted that he had "problematic and traumatic teenager years" and that he has made attempts at rehabilitation.
She suspended the last two years of the sentence on the condition that Burnett keep the peace for four years upon his release from prison and liaise with the probation services for 18 months.
Garda Michael McCabe told Mr Roughan Banim BL, prosecuting, that gardai found Burnett hiding in a cupboard in Martins Public House, in Clonshaugh Shopping Centre following a burglary there. He was wearing a dark hat and gloves at the time.
Gardai later found three bottles of alcohol and €284 worth of cigarettes in a large shopping bag outside the pub. They also found €284 in cash that had been taken during the course of the break-in.
Garda Damien Gildea said that a member of staff in a pharmacy on Fairview Strand followed Burnett and his accomplice out of the shop following the raid and pointed out the culprits to a passing garda.
Burnett was later arrested. The two men had taken €175 in cash and €300 worth of drugs after threatening staff with a knife though gardai could not ascertain which raider had the weapon.
Two months earlier Burnett produced a knife at staff in another pharmacy and demanded cash and drugs. He was later arrested but had to be first taken to hospital due to an injury to his hand.
Burnett admitted to all the offences when arrested by gardai, identified himself on CCTV footage and fully co-operated with the garda investigation.
Ms Biggs told Judge Delahunt that her client did not dispute any of the crimes and took full responsibility but added that although he accepted he assaulted the Slovakian man and caused him injury, he denied that he had bit him.
She said his father has a number of previous convictions and had been in prison at the same time as his son.
Ms Biggs said her client is conscious of the effects his crimes have had on his victims and a probation report before the court indicates that he has "victim empathy".
She said that since Burnett is no longer addicted to drugs there is some hope that he may have a normal life upon his release from custody.