Judge saves soldier’s career after betting shop robbery

A CASH-STRAPPED solider, who robbed a betting shop located next to Sarsfield Barracks where he was based, had his career saved when a judge bound him to the peace for three years.

The court was told he would be discharged from the army if a jail sentence was imposed.

Three-star Private Alan O’Callaghan was arrested in a pub after fleeing, on foot, from Bambury’s bookmakers shop in Wolfe Tone Street with €300.

He used his army knife to threaten a student working in the bookmakers, forcing her to hand over money in a cash box.

When O’Callaghan pleaded guilty to the crime at Limerick Circuit Court in February 2009, an army officer told Judge Carroll Moran that if Private O’Callaghan was jailed, he would be discharged from the army.

Judge Moran was told Private O’Callaghan had paid €6,000 to the injured party and had taken steps to deal with an alcohol problem.

Judge Moran said he did not want to blight O’Callaghan’s career in the army and bound him to the peace for three years.

O’Callaghan, 28, with an address at Bengal Terrace, Limerick, joined the army in 1999.

He carried out the robbery on July 11, 2007.

State prosecutor John O’Sullivan BL said when arrested shortly after the robbery, O’Callaghan told gardaí he was drunk at the time and owed a lot of money.

Brian McInerney BL, for O’Callaghan, said the accused had written an apology letter to the student and acknowledged that what he had done was completely and utterly wrong.

What had transpired on the day of the robbery, he said, had been a turning point in his life.

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