Jail for addict who committed crime spree

A drug addict who committed over 40 crimes in less than a year, including dousing a service station assistant with petrol and threatening to burn him, has been jailed for 13 years.

A drug addict who committed over 40 crimes in less than a year, including dousing a service station assistant with petrol and threatening to burn him, has been jailed for 13 years.

Gary Hall, aged 31, of Hill Street, Summerhill "undoubtedly committed the greatest litany of crime I have ever had to deal with", Judge Frank O’Donnell said at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

His crime spree also included locking an 86-year-old man in his kitchen while robbing him; armed robbery at the National Irish Bank in College Green on April 4, 2002; hiding in the house of a Sutton woman who discovered him in her bedroom on July 11, 2002; and a spate of knife point robberies from various Xtravision and convenient stores across Dublin.

Hall almost lost his leg in October 2002 as a result of injecting himself with a syringe several times in his groin area.

He admitted these robberies while he was in the Mater Hospital suffering from the severe injury he caused to his leg.

Judge O’Donnell said he wanted Hall to serve a total of eight years in jail for all the offences and suspended the last five years of the 13-year total which the separate sentences imposed on him amounted to.

Hall, now HIV and Hepatitis C positive, had been a chronic heroin addict at the time he committed the offences.

Judge O’Donnell described him as having abused every drug he could get his hands on "from glue to heroin and LSD".

Judge O’Donnell noted Hall had 24 previous convictions and had been jailed for seven years in 1998 for larceny.

This was reduced to four years by the Court of Criminal Appeal in December 12, 2001 and, Judge O’Donnell commented, he was "back in business very shortly after that".

The longest sentence Hall received was eight years for dousing the Chinese shop assistant working at Maxol filling station on Harold’s Road on January 1, 2003 before threatening to set him on fire and kill him.

Hall, who had been diagnosed with HIV not long before this offence, entered the service station with another man carrying a knife and a container of petrol.

After dousing the shop assistant and the hatch behind which he was working with petrol they robbed €200 and a large number of cigarettes. They left the premises with over €1000 in cash and property.

Before leaving in a red car they cut the phone line in the shop. The shop assistant, who feared for his life, managed to note down the number of the car and notify gardaí who noted that their getaway car had been stolen the previous day.

Gardaí located the car near Fatima Mansions. Hall had attempted to burn it, and the vehicle had to be written off.

Both Hall and his accomplice were apprehended in the Fatima Mansions area at the time. His accomplice was sentenced in 2003 to three years for his part in the robbery.

Evidence had been heard on July 24, 2003 on seven other indictments against him involving a number of the robbery charges.

The sentence hearing had been adjourned several times since then so that Hall could have all outstanding matters against him dealt with at the same time.

He confessed in October 2002 to having burgled a house in Drimnagh; the Shell filling station on Parnell Street on May 02, 2002; a house on Walkinstown Road on May 29, 2002; a house on Kildare Road, Dublin 2 on June 6, 2002; a SPAR shop in Crumlin on July 21, 2002; the Xtravision on Sundrive Road two days later; and a newsagents on Crumlin Road and the KCR shop on Kimmage Road five days later.

He also admitted to robbing another newsagents on Kimmage Road on August 5, 2002; the SPAR shop on Rathgar Road on August 10, 2002; the Texaco filling station on Rathfarnham Road on August 20, 2002 and a Maxol filling station in Dublin 4 on August 23, 2002.

He had stolen a car the day before for that robbery.

The modus operandi he employed in most robberies was to go into the shops, pretend to be making a purchase, and when the shop assistants opened the tills after scanning in the goods, he produced a large knife or another implement and threatened to use it on them unless they gave him money.

"A pattern emerged," Judge O’Donnell noted to the six prosecuting counsel representing the State on the various bill and Mr Luan O Braonain BL, counsel for Hall.

Hall always cooperated with gardaí when he was arrested and "always apologised in all these matters."

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