A garda has been praised for going "beyond the call of duty" when he arrested an armed robber who threatened to shoot at him twice within minutes of carrying out a raid on a Dublin Pharmacy.
Garda Thomas Paul Prenderville was congratulated for his bravery by Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court who said: "Confronting him once was heroic but a second time with his life under threat was beyond the call of duty."
Lee Conlon (aged 29) threatened to shoot Gda Prenderville who chased him after spotting him trying to hi-jack a vehicle armed with what he thought was a knife or a gun but the garda stood his ground and told Conlon he was under arrest.
Conlon ignored the caution and ran off and tried to hi-jack another car but Gda Prenderville arrived on the scene again and pounced on him, knocked him off balance and pinned him to the ground after again being threatened by the robber "to back off or you're dead".
"I firmly believed that my life was in danger," Gda Prenderville told defence counsel, Mr Luigi Rea BL, after he explained that he only realised it was an imitation gun Conlon was carrying when the owner of the car kicked it out of his hands after he had "put him to ground".
Conlon pleaded guilty to robbery of the pharmacy on Manor Street, attempting to unlawfully seize a car and possession of an imitation firearm with attempt to resist arrest on June 25, 2007 and being in possession of the sawn off shot gun on June 26, 2007.
He asked Judge Delahunt to be as lenient as she could because he wanted "to get his life back together".
He said he had been using drugs since he was 14 years old and had spent most of his adult life, bar eight months, in prison. His 32 previous convictions included an eight year sentence for a syringe robbery.
Judge Delahunt imposed a nine year sentence on Conlon of Meath Street Flats in the Coombe area for the robbery, the hi-jack and another charge of possession of a 12-gauge double barrel shot gun.
Judge Delahunt suspended the last three years of the sentence having taken the testimony of defence witness James Gantly into account who told her that Conlon "never had a chance" having spent most of his youth in institutions.
Gda Prenderville told prosecuting counsel, Ms Anne Marie Lawlor BL, that Conlon told his accomplice during the pharmacy raid to shoot a staff member in the legs if he moved, while he demanded medication. The pair then left with cash from the register.
Gda Prenderville agreed with Mr Rea that Conlon had expressed his remorse, regret and apologies for his behaviour that day.
Detective Garda Eammon Tighe told the court that he was on patrol in Drimnagh on June 26, 2007 when he saw Conlon standing beside a car wearing a pair of black gloves and carrying a red bag.
He shouted at Conlon to stay where he was and later saw him shove the bag under the bonnet of the car before he tried to make good his escape.
Conlon was followed and when gardai caught up with him he told them that he was "only going to rob a car". The red bag was later recovered and a sawn off shot gun was found in it.