A pair of armed robbers who pointed a firearm into the face of a middle-aged postmistress have lost appeals against the severity of their nine-year sentences.
Marcus O’Rourke (39) and Brian O’Sullivan (33), pleaded guilty at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court to the robbery of postmistress Lisa O’Reilly Foran at Waterville Post Office, Co Kerry, on August 3, 2016.
Killarney men O’Rourke, of Rathanane, Kilcuminn, and O'Sullivan, of Coolies, Muckross, also admitted having an imitation firearm with intent to commit a robbery, endangering two gardaí and damaging a garda car.
They were sentenced to nine years imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Judge Thomas E O’Donnell on January 15, 2018. The sentences were made consecutive to three year terms imposed for separate drugs offences, for which they were both separately on bail when they robbed the post office.
Both men lost appeals against the severity of their sentences today with the Court of Appeal holding that the sentences were warranted for an offence of such seriousness.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the owner of the post office, a middle aged lady, was expecting a cash delivery at the time in question.
Mr Justice Birmingham said O’Rourke and O’Sullivan entered the post office carrying a firearm and a crowbar. The owner activated the panic alarm and the gun was “pointed in her face”.
The raiders broke a pane of glass before making off with four to five thousand euro, the judge said.
Also present in the post office at the time, were two Dutch tourists, who found the incident to be “extremely frightening,” the judge said.
The raiders drove at speed onto the ring of Kerry road, a narrow and busy road, having transferred to another vehicle.
Gardaí’s attention focused on a Mazda vehicle and when gardaí came upon it, O’Rourke and O’Sullivan concealed themselves inside. It appeared to the gardaí that the vehicle was empty, before it was reversed into the garda car, causing damage to the vehicle and endangering the officers.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Thomas Rice BL, said the firearm was also produced to gardaí during a high-speed chase. The gardaí believed it was real to the extent that they opened fire.
Mr Justice Birmingham said O’Rourke had 43 previous convictions while O’Sullivan had 52. Neither had a previous conviction of “comparable gravity,” the judge added.
In the Court of Appeal’s view, it was an offence in the upper range of seriousness. It involved the production of a firearm to a middle aged lady, during the robbery of a rural post office together with the driving of a vehicle at high speed, along narrow roads and the ramming of a garda car, endangering gardaí.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, said the court had not doubt that the sentence imposed was within the available range.
He said the court had not been persuaded that the sentence was excessively severe.