A convicted robber who snatched a handbag from a 75-year-old woman going to mass has been given a four-year prison sentence.
The driver of a getaway car received an 18-month term.
Stephen Roe (aged 32), of Moorefield Lawns, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbing Ms Moira McDermott of €500 in the grounds of the Church of the Immaculate Conception on May 13, 2005.
Damien Higgins (aged 28), of Liffey Court, Liffey Valley Park, Lucan who drove the getaway car from the church grounds pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Roe in the crime.
Roe had 20 previous convictions, including a five years sentence in 1999 and seven years in 2000 for robberies of shops and service stations and larcenies in the west Dublin area. Higgins had six previous convictions.
Judge Katherine Delahunt said the attack on Ms McDermott was "as low as it goes" and imposed a four year sentence on Roe with the last 18 months suspended and 18 months on Higgins, suspending the last six months.
Garda Kieran O’Neill told Mr Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that as Ms McDermott entered the church grounds and walked towards the church, Roe came from behind her and pulled her handbag off her shoulder, causing her to fall to the ground as she shouted for help.
Gda O’Neill said Mr Thomas McNamara had been standing outside the church when he saw a silver Ford Focus car enter the grounds and drive past him slowly while the passenger stared at him.
He then heard a scream and ran around the church corner where he saw the passenger, Roe, running back to the car with a handbag with the victim lying on the ground.
Mr McNamara took the very distressed Ms McDermott to his car and people who recognised her alerted her family. Mr McNamara gave a description of Roe to gardaí.
Gda O’Neill said Ms McDermott’s handbag had contained holy medals and her pension book as well as €500 in cash which she had been saving for a holiday.
Gardaí later stopped the getaway car on Collins Row and found a purse in the passenger seat which had been emptied except for Ms McDermott's Tesco’s Club Card. Roe had €165 cash and Higgins €185.
Ms Iseult O’Malley BL, defending Higgins, said her client was a long standing heroin addict with a history of drug fuelled criminal behaviour who had played a lesser role in this attack and had been unaware of what was happening until he saw Roe get back into the car with the handbag.
Mr Fergal Foley BL, defending Roe, said the robbery had not been pre-planned and his client had taken steps to address his heroin addiction. He appealed for leniency saying "a prison sentence might have the effect of turning him back into a drug addict and have him released at the end as a significant danger to the public."
Judge Kieran O’Connor told Roe on January 25, 2000 that he was lucky to have the support of his family and if he stayed out of trouble he could be released from prison on June 21, 2000 when both his five year and seven year sentences were scheduled for review.