‘I wasn’t driving, I was in the pub after robbing cash’

By Liam Heylin

A man accused of driving a Skoda Octavia up on a footpath to swerve past a Garda checkpoint denied driving that day and said he was out drinking after robbing cash from a bookies.

Garda Emma Henebery said she had a clear view of John Paul Thornton of 4 Blackwater Grove, Togher, Cork, as he drove dangerously past a Garda checkpoint on South Terrace, Cork, on June 17 last year.

“I was 100% satisfied it was John Paul Thornton,” testified Garda Henebery.

Thornton got into the witness box and told his barrister Nikki O’Sullivan: “The date she was on about, I was after robbing money out of a bookies.

“And I never owned a Skoda car. I never drove a Skoda car. I wasn’t driving a car that day.

“I went to a house in Pouladuff Road and I went drinking there. I got a taxi to the Grafton Bar. I was in the pub for the night.”

Judge Olann Kelleher said: “There is very clear evidence from Garda Henebery. I convict him of dangerous driving at South Terrace.”

Sgt Gearóid Davis said Thornton, 38, had 140 previous convictions.

Judge Kelleher said: “This was a very dangerous manoeuvre in daylight at 8pm in June. He proceeded without any consideration for Garda Henebery and drove up on the footpath.”

The judge convicted him of dangerous driving and sentenced him to six months in jail.

He was previously jailed for the robbery. In that case he filled out a betting slip in his local betting shop with the words: “Give out the money or I will f**k petrol in on top of you.”

He pleaded guilty to a charge of robbing €878 in cash from Ladbroke’s on Edwards Walsh Road on June 17 last year. He was jailed for eight months for that.

Detective Sergeant Martin Canny said the accused threatened the man working behind the counter that he was going to rob the bookies or light the place up.

“He is known locally as Bubbles. The man working there would have known him by his nickname from coming into the shop,” said the detective.

The man working behind the counter first thought it was a joke when the accused handed him the docket with the threat about a robbery.

Det Sgt Canny said the accused reached behind him as if he had something concealed, giving the impression he might have petrol. The detective agreed with the suggestion that the accused had no such thing with him at the time.

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