A man who fired eight shots from a semi-automatic pistol as he raided a Dublin post office has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Glen Kavanagh, 43, held a Makarov pistol to a customer’s head and then leapt over the counter before he was tackled to the ground by a passing ESB repairman, a court has heard.
Counsel for Kavanagh told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that his client had “no memory” of carrying out the raid as he was “out of control” on drugs at the time.
Kavanagh of Upper Oriel Street in Dublin pleaded guilty to robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm at Woodbine Park Post Office, Blackrock, on January 19, 2016.
Judge Melanie Greally sentenced him for possessing the Makarov pistol.
She said that the unlawful possession of a firearm offence came close to the top of the upper range of 10 to 14 years imprisonment and merited a headline sentence of 13 and a half years.
Judge Greally gave Kavanagh credit for his guilty plea, his assistance to the investigation, as well as the link between the offending and his use of heroin and crack cocaine. She noted letters from his siblings outlining that he had been exposed to violence and criminality from an early age.
She took into account his recent efforts at rehabilitation and the content of reports before the court.
Judge Greally imposed ten years imprisonment on the firearms charge which she backdated to January 2018.
At an earlier hearing, Sergeant Trevor Hayes told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that a woman had been buying a dog licence at the post office at the time of the raid.
The woman later told gardaí that while she was at the counter, a man wearing a white face mask came in with a gun. He put one hand around her neck and held a gun to her temple with the other hand, saying “give me the money,” the woman reported.
She told gardaí she then heard a number of shots being fired and saw the glass shattering between the counter and the public area, before the raider tried to climb over the counter.
The court heard that an ESB repair man who had been working outside with colleagues had seen a masked man on a bicycle approaching and entering the post office and, thinking it suspicious, followed him in.
This man told gardaí he saw “legs going over the counter” so he grabbed the raider and pulled him back into the public area, marking the beginning of an “aggressive struggle” between them.
The repairman said he got a fright when he heard a shot go off as he hadn’t realised the raider had a gun. He said he felt in fear of his life but decided his best option was to continue to try and contain the man.
Both men eventually fell outside the door of the post office and the repairman kicked the raider on the ankle, causing the gun to fly out of his hand and hit an ESB colleague on the head.
This man later required stitches to his head. The raider made his escape but was later identified on CCTV by gardaí. €455 was stolen from the post office during the course of the raid.
Gardaí recovered the 9mm-calibre semi-automatic Makarov pistol and eight discarded cartridges.
Sgt Hayes said the gun’s original barrel had been replaced, the serial number deliberately effaced and the muzzle adapted to accommodate a silencer.
Kavanagh’s DNA was found on a Supervalu bag he had been carrying and also in a bloodstain on the street outside.
He has 46 previous convictions, of which 12 are Circuit Court offences. In 2011 Kavanagh was convicted for the robbery of a jewellers’ shop and the possession of a loaded, sawn-off shotgun, for which was sentenced to eight years with three suspended.
The court heard that none of the witnesses at the post office raid wished to make a victim impact statement as they “wanted to get on with their lives”.
Sgt Hayes agreed with Seán Gillane SC, defending, that Kavanagh had a long standing, deep-seated chronic drug problem to heroin and crack cocaine.
Mr Gillane said Kavanagh had had a difficult childhood due to his father’s alcoholism and had become addicted to drugs in his teens.
He said the CCTV footage which was played in court showed just how “out of control” Kavanagh was on the day in question.
The court heard that Kavanagh was very remorseful and apologised in a letter to all the members of the public who were present at the scene.
Kavanagh has been in custody on the matter since April 10 last year. Judge Greally adjourned sentencing on the robbery charge to July 31, pending the preparation of a probation report.