Woman gets community service after turning her life around

A drug-addicted robber who has turned her life around since becoming a mother is to perform 200 hours of community service in lieu of two years' imprisonment for her role in a St Stephen's Green robbery.

Joanne Curtis (aged 20) of South Circular Road, Rialto was arrested with her co-accused, Dean Hanley, after being covertly trailed across the city centre by their victim following the robbery.

Curtis pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing Mr David Hannigan of his phone and a sum of cash in St Stephen's Green on October 5, 2006.

Hanley (aged 19), of Backlane Hostel, Dublin 8, was sentenced to two years detention last November by Judge Tony Hunt for this and three other robberies committed between June and October 2006.

Judge Katherine Delahunt said she was impressed with Curtis's efforts at rehabilitation and urged her to "keep up the good work". She said she accepted Curtis was not the instigator of the crime.

Judge Delahunt ordered that Curtis perform 200 hours of community service in lieu of a two-year prison sentence. She referred the case to The Probation Service to asses Curtis's suitability for community service.

Garda Jaime Jordan told Mr Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that Mr Hannigan and a friend were stopped by Hanley and Curtis while walking in St Stephen's Green.

Hanley grabbed Mr Hannigan by the arm and pulled him to the ground but he managed to kick himself free. As he was getting up he saw Curtis approaching him with a broken bottle and froze.

Curtis shouted at Mr Hannigan to empty his pockets and Hanley pulled him back down to the ground holding him by the throat. Curtis held the broken bottle to Mr Hannigan's neck and shouted: "Do you want to be strangled?"

Mr Hannigan pleaded with them not to take his money while Curtis searched his pockets taking his phone and wallet. Hanley pulled back his fist as if to punch him but Curtis told him: "Lets go".

Garda Jordan said Mr Hannigan alerted nearby gardai but they were unable to locate the pair. About half an hour later Mr Hannigan was crossing the Ha'penny Bridge and saw them ahead of him.

Mr Hannigan followed some distance behind Hanley and Curtis until they stopped outside of Busáras and he ran into Store Street garda station to alert gardai.

Garda Jordan said the pair were arrested and Curtis admitted the robbery telling gardai she owed money for drugs and was afraid of the consequences. Garda Jordan said Curtis had one previous conviction.

Mr Bernard Condon BL, defending Curtis, said her mother had died when she was 11 and she and her 11 siblings were "scattered to the four corners" in foster care when her alcoholic father was unable to care for them. When she left foster care Curtis became homeless and began abusing drugs.

Mr Condon said there had been a "remarkable change" in Curtis after she became a mother three months ago. He said it had "directed her mind and stabilised her". She now lived in rented accommodation and had attended some drug counselling but this had been difficult due to lack of available child care.

He said she now had the support of some of her siblings with whom she had lost contact when she went into foster care and had instructed him that she was now drug free. He said she had not come to Garda attention in the last year and had staged a "remarkable turnabout" in her life.


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