A Croatian man who raided two post offices while armed with an imitation firearm has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Judge Melanie Greally noted that Mario Hanzic Broz, 44, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experience in the Balkans conflict.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that he was 18 years old when he joined the army and later witnessed “varying levels of atrocities” during the Balkans War.
He numbed himself against the incidents he had witnessed by using cannabis, LSD, cocaine and heroin.
Broz, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an air pistol with intent at Botanic Road Post Office, Dublin 9 on May 8, 2018.
He also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an air pistol at Berkeley Road Post Office, Phibsborough, Dublin 7, on May 10, 2018.
He has no previous convictions in this jurisdiction.
The former cafe worker went into the two post offices with a 6mm caliber air pistol but turned around and left without any money.
The elderly postmaster in the first raid did not know if the handgun was real or an imitation.
Broz told gardaí he carried out the raids after his job hours had been reduced and he was unable to pay his rent.
Garda Patrick Dunne agreed with Oisín Clarke BL, defending, that Broz had had second thoughts during the brief incidents and was extremely remorseful when arrested.
Gda Dunne told Mr Clarke that Broz's car had been taken from him for having no insurance, which meant he could not get to work on time and his cafe hours were reduced.
Judge Greally noted that the postmaster in the first raid described in a victim impact statement the trauma of the attack.
The incident left him feeling vulnerable and unsafe and had diminished his confidence.
Gda Dunne told Ms Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, at an earlier hearing that the postmaster was working in the shop when he saw a male in front of him shouting “money, money money” and holding “a handgun”.
The postmaster knew about firearms from being victim to previous robberies, but wasn't certain if Broz's gun was real. He told Broz he was going to a back area to get money.
While he was there he looked at the CCTV but couldn't see Broz. He returned to the post office public area, saw that Broz was gone and rang gardaí.
Two days later Broz approached a woman working at the cash desk at Berkeley Road Post Office and took the gun out of a white plastic bag.
He told the woman to give him all the money, but then turned around after a few seconds and left the post office.
The woman hit the panic button and gardaí arrived a short time later.
Gda Dunne said Broz was arrested at Blessington Street Basin in Dublin about an hour after this second incident.
He agreed with Mr Clarke that Broz had retrieved the gun from a bin and handed it to gardaí at the scene, revealing he had bought it at a toy shop.
Gda Dunne said Broz mentioned he suffered from PTSD due to his service in the army during the Balkans War.
He said he tracked down Broz's former cafe boss, who had described him as a “very good worker” and was surprised about the offending.
Mr Clarke submitted to Judge Greally that his client had joined the army when he was 18 years old and had witnessed “varying levels of atrocities” during the Balkans War.
Counsel said his client numbed himself against the incidents he had witnessed by using LSD, cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
He said this was commonplace among soldiers and that Broz left the army with a heroin addiction.
Mr Clarke submitted that though Broz had held down jobs in Croatia, he got into trouble because of his heroin addiction.
He said Broz got clean of drugs before coming to Ireland 18 months ago to join friends here and “make a clean sweep” of his life.
Mr Clarke said the attempted robberies were “two desperate situations” that his client regretted.
The judge said she was giving Broz credit for his guilty plea, his co-operation with gardaí, the immediate remorse and subsequent regret shown by him, and his difficult personal history.
She suspended the final two years of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence on condition that he keep the peace for the entire period and obey all directions of the Probation Services.
There was no victim impact statement from the victim of the later offence.