Man facing separate sentences for ATM robberies

A man serving a three-year sentence for attempting to rob a woman at an ATM machine has been given a consecutive four-year sentence for an almost identical series of robberies at ATMs in DART stations.

A man serving a three-year sentence for attempting to rob a woman at an ATM machine has been given a consecutive four year sentence for an almost identical series of robberies at ATMs in DART stations.

Thomas McDonagh Neeson (aged 31), loitered beside ATM machines at DART stations and as people were about to collect their money he jumped in and grabbed it, occasionally threatening victims with a knife.

Neeson, with addresses at Coultry Road, Ballymun and Seaview, Strand Ropad, Portmarnock pleaded guilty to five robberies at ATMs beside Tara Street and Pearse Street DART stations between March 2007 and January 2008.

He also pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to three counts of producing a weapon in the course of a robbery. He had 53 previous convictions mainly for robbery and larceny offences.

Neeson was given a three year sentence by Judge Desmond Hogan in February for the attempted robbery of a woman who had just taken money from an ATM in College Street, Dublin on August 5 2007.

He was on bail for that offence when he committed his final ATM robbery in January of this year

Judge Katherine Delahunt imposed a three year sentence for the January 2008 robbery to commence when Neeson finishes his current three year term. She suspended the final year of the consecutive sentence.

Judge Delahunt also imposed concurrent sentences totalling four years on the other charges which she backdated to begin in January of this year when he went into custody on them.

Garda Jarlath Keogh told Mr Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that Neeson robbed three people at the Ulster Bank ATM machine outside Tara Street DART station on January 29, 2007.

Neeson produced a large "oriental style" knife during two of the robberies and ran away with the money.

Gda Keogh said Neeson tried to grab €400 from a woman withdrawing money from an ATM at Westland Row on July 30, 2007 but she managed to hold onto it and kicked him.

A passer-by came to her assistance and knocked Neeson down but backed off when he produced a knife. He then pushed the woman up against a wall and demanded the money while holding the knife to her jaw.

Gda Keogh said the terrified woman handed over the money and reported the incident to gardaí.

Neeson was arrested for the final robbery on January 21, 2008 after he was followed by gardaí and observed loitering beside the ATM at Tara Street DART station. Gardaí lost sight of him temporarily but arrested him nearby after a woman reported being robbed by him at the ATM.

Gda Keogh agreed with defence counsel, Mr Luigi Rea BL, that Neeson was "a pest in the inner city" and the ATMs under the bridge at Tara street had become a "no go area" for many.

Mr Rea said although the robberies had been terrifying for the victims no one had been physically injured.

He said Neeson had a "low quality of life" and spent the money on funding his drink and drug habits.

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