An Iraqi war veteran who developed drug addictions a result of his military service has being jailed for robbery and car jacking.
Lawyers for Stephen Keane (30) told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that while doing tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the British Army he witnessed his friend being blown up by a roadside bomb.
Sarah-Jane O'Callaghan said Keane suffered from PTSD. He received a substantial payout upon leaving the army but squandered it all on heroin and crack cocaine.
Keane of Cushlawn Drive, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to impersonating a member of An Garda Síochána at BoyleSports, Firhouse Road, on August 25, 2018.
He also pleaded guilty to unlawfully seizing a vehicle at Firhouse Shopping Centre, Firhouse, and robbery at Dwan's Off-Licence, Woodstown Shopping Centre, Ballycullen, on the same date.
Judge Melanie Greally said that Keane had a distinguished military career behind him, having served as a land sergeant with the Elite Irish Guards. She noted that he developed a drug addiction as a result of experiences in Iraq.
She said that at the time of the offences the father of two was in the throes of an extremely serious addiction. She said he has shown very genuine remorse for his crimes and was now determined to turn a corner in life.
Judge Greally suspended the final three years on a six-year prison sentence on condition that he engage with the Probation Service in offence and victim-focused work and in drug treatment.
The judge said that Keane was threatening and aggressive while committing the crimes and his actions had a very frightening effect on the victims. She noted his actions were motivated by desperation due to his addiction.
During interview with gardaí, Keane said he had a drug debt and that those he owed the money to had made threats against his family.
He said the gun he had was “a broken airsoft gun” and that he found the garda identification card in the back of a taxi.
“Give me all the f***ing money”
Keane has 68 previous convictions in Ireland and the UK. These include convictions for assault causing actual bodily harm, burglary, robbery, theft, criminal damage and violent behaviour in a garda station.
Garda James Grogan told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Keane entered BoyleSports, showed the manager a badge and claimed to be an undercover garda.
Gda Grogan said Keane asked for the last five hours of CCTV footage and also asked to go into the back of the bookmakers. The manager refused and Keane left the store.
Later that day, Keane approached a car outside Firhouse Shopping Centre and told the driver to get out and that he had a gun. Keane allowed the driver to get his dogs out of the car before he “sped off” in the car.
Keane then entered an off-licence, pointed a gun at an employee and told him to “Give me all the f***ing money”.
He stole €395 from the till as well as three packs of cigarettes.
Gda Grogan said that Keane committed the three offences in less than twenty minutes.
Addressing the court, Keane said that he was ashamed of himself and that he could not look at his child.
He said he deserved to be punished, but asked for hope at the end of his sentence.