A father-of-two who threatened to chop off a customer’s head while he was trying to rob a post office has been sentenced to four and half years with the final 18 months suspended, reports Sonya McLean.
George Simpson (30), who was armed with both an air pistol and a hatchet, told gardaí in interview “I’m sorry I had to do it. I owe €14,000. I would be killed.” His counsel said he was referring to a drug debt he owed due to his cocaine habit.
Simpson previously of Millwood Villas, Edenmore, Raheny, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted robbery, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to rob, production of a weapon, threat to kill or cause serious harm and criminal damage at Rush Post Office, Main Street, Rush, Co Dublin on November 28, 2016.
Garda Ross Rowan told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting at a sentence hearing earlier this month, that the staff member behind the desk ran into the back office for safety after Simpson threatened to chop the head off a male customer if she didn’t hand over cash.
He then used the hatchet to smash a glass panel in front of the tills before he was heard shouting “fuck this” and running out of the post office.
Simpson has since moved out of the home he shared with his wife and two sons.
Dominic McGinn SC defending said he believed “the threat still hangs over him” and he wanted to distance himself from his family. Simpson had been living in his car before he was remanded in custody after evidence was heard on July 11, last.
Counsel said the “nature of the crime was such a huge shock to his wife” because although Simpson has 15 previous convictions, they are for more minor offences that have been dealt with in the District Court.
Judge Karen O’Connor, who viewed CCTV footage of the raid said a child was in the queue at the post office that day and she could also see a man lying on the ground covering his eyes.
“It is clear that it was was most frightening for those present,” the judge said but accepted that Simpson had been “motivated by fear” to raid the post office.
She said the fact that his behaviour on the day was out of character would have little impact on the staff and customers there.
Garda Rowan said the female member of staff was afraid for her life while she hid in the back office. She had pressed the panic alarm and didn’t come back out until a customer told her Simpson had left.
Simpson was arrested a short time later after witnesses told gardaí he ran off in the direction of nearby Lusk. He had a balaclava, an air pistol, a magazine of plastic pellets for the gun and a hatchet with him when he was stopped.
He apologised during interview to the staff and customers and admitted that he had threatened the man.
Mr McGinn said Simpson recognised his difficulties in life and had started attending a psychologist.
“He accepts what he has done and knows there will be further punishment,” Mr McGinn said.