A man who took part in the robbery of a takeaway in which the owner was bound and stabbed with a screwdriver later fled the country after informing gardaí he would not be present for his trial, writes Brion Hoban.
Bashkim Osaj (39), of Coultry Avenue, Ballymun, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery and false imprisonment at Thorncastle Street. Ringsend, Dublin on February 26, 2012.
Judge Melanie Greally sentenced Osaj to seven years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended on the condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour upon release.
Garda Brian Hunt told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that two men, one of whom was Osaj, entered the home and business of Nunzio Del Duca in Ringsend. A third man, who was known to Mr Del Duca, had convinced him to have a party in his house so that the men could easily enter the premises.
Mr Del Duca was bound and gagged by the two men. Water was poured down his mouth as the two men tried to force him to reveal the location of the key to a safe located in his takeaway restaurant.
He was stabbed with a screwdriver in the ear and the leg. He sustained permanent loss of feeling in part of his face due to a small nerve being severed during the incident.
Osaj was arrested and released on bail pending a trial. He later called gardaí and said that he would not appear for the trial, but that he was sure they would catch him later.
He fled the country and took refuge in Belgium. In July, 2016 he submitted to the arrest warrant and was brought back to Ireland where he pleaded guilty.
Osaj has 26 previous convictions. These convictions include five for burglary, two for possession of an article during a burglary, and one count of robbery and false imprisonment arising from an incident in which he tied up a woman during a burglary.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the robbery and false imprisonment charges with the entirety of the sentence suspended.
Conor Devally SC, defending, said Osaj had been forced to flee his home country Kosovo due to war and became a refugee in Germany. He came to Ireland in 1997 and became an Irish citizen in 2003.
Mr Devally said Osaj accepted he had taken part in the robbery but said that he had not wielded the screwdriver which injured Mr Del Duca. He said it had not been Osaj’s plan but that “he was the muscle in the operation.”
Judge Greally described the violence as being “of a particular nasty nature” and said she saw little distinction in culpability between Osaj and the man who organised the robbery.
She said the mitigating factors in the case were his guilty plea, his difficult background, that he was a foreign national serving a custodial sentence in a foreign country, and the fact that he has three children.