A man who previously won best dog handler at Crufts has temporarily avoided a prison sentence for three knife point muggings, after a judge decided to give him a chance.
Michael Geoghegan (36) also threatened to stab a garda who chased him down after the muggings in Swords, north Dublin.
Delaying a ruling at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today, Judge Patricia Ryan put Geoghegan on a probation bond and adjourned sentence until next January.
Judge Ryan said robbery was a very serious matter with a maximum sentence of life, but that a probation report showed Geoghegan had made efforts to tackle his drug and alcohol addiction and she wanted to encourage these efforts.
“This is a chance for him to show the courts that he is on the right path and will remain on the right path,” said Judge Ryan.
“Thanks for that, your Honour,” replied Geoghegan.
The court heard Geoghegan had handed over the sum of €2,500 as a practical gesture of remorse which was to be divided among the civilian victims of the muggings.
Geoghegan previously pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery and production of a knife at Rathbeale Road, Swords on August 18 last year.
Geoghegan of Ormond View, Swords Manor, Swords also admitted producing a large kitchen knife to intimidate and producing an iron drill bit and knife, while resisting arrest.
The court heard Detective Sergeant Alan Flaherty eventually disarmed him using his baton.
Annette Kealy BL, defending, told the court that Geoghegan had some talent with animals and that in his youth, he had won an award at Crufts for best dog handler.
She said Geoghegan had begun using drugs in his early teens and was addicted to heroin by 16. He was attempting to deal with his drug problems but had relapsed a number of times, she said.
She said Geoghegan had stayed off drugs since these robberies.
The court heard that after his arrest, gardaí believed he was medically unfit to be interviewed. He later told investigators that he couldn't remember anything about the offending but admitted it was him on the CCTV footage from the area.
Detective Garda Warren O'Sullivan told the court that Geoghegan carried out the robberies on three random women at around nine in the morning.
The first victim, who worked as a care assistant, was walking to a house for a care visit when Geoghegan came up behind her and put his arm around her neck. He said, “give me your money, I want paper not coins.” She saw the blade of a knife in his hand and gave him some cash, the court heard.
Geoghegan has one previous conviction for robbery with an imitation firearm. This was committed in 2005. He also has a previous conviction for drug offences.
Dt Gda O'Sullivan told Ms Kealy that he accepted that her client was genuinely sorry for these offences.
The second victim was arriving for work in a nearby supermarket when Geoghegan came up to her and threatened her with the knife and demanded money. A co-worker saw the robbery and began shouting at Geoghegan.
The victim ran off but Geoghegan chased her. He shouted “Where are you going?” at her and threatened to throw the knife at her.
She ran to a Dunnes Stores outlet but the shutters were still down and Geoghegan caught up with her and grabbed her arm. He demanded money and she gave him €60.
The third woman was arriving for work at a barber shop and had just parked her car nearby when Geoghegan came up to her. He raised the knife to her and said, “give me your money or I will stab you.” She took out €80 from her handbag and gave it him and he ran off.
The court heard that Detective Sergeant Flaherty arrived at the scene and saw Geoghegan running off and chased after him. He found Geoghegan crouching down beside a parked car and noticed he had a knife and a drill bit.
He told Geoghegan to drop the weapons but Geoghegan instead got up and lunged at the garda. He then began walking off.
Dt Sgt Flaherty told him repeatedly to stop but Geoghegan repeatedly asked the garda to “go away,” Katherine McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, told the court.
Geoghegan later added “I'm going to stab you,” the court heard, and lunged at the garda again. He also made two attempts to throw the drill bit at the officer before the garda deployed his baton and disarmed him.