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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Man who stole €50k with Love/Hate star jailed for four years

Gun robber Stephen Clinch
Gun robber Stephen Clinch

A reformed drug addict who teamed up with a former Love/Hate actor to rob €50,000 at gunpoint has been jailed for four years.

Hugh McWeeney (43) had beaten his addiction several years ago, but was drawn back into criminality because of debts built up by drug use.

During the robbery, his co- accused Stephen Clinch, who played Noely in the hit RTE drama, held a semi-automatic pistol to the head of a security worker collecting overnight cash from a bar.

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Clinch (49), of Millbrook Grove, Kilbarrack, Dublin, received a four-and-a-half year sentence last month for his part in the robbery.

At his sentence hearing, the court heard that he told gardai he had been clean of heroin for nine years and committed the crime because he owed money as a result of the discovery by gardai of a consignment of drugs he had been given to hide.

McWeeney pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of €50,730 and possession of a firearm with intent to commit robbery at The Gate Hotel, Parnell Street, last May 11.

Judge Melanie Greally said that in McWeeney's 31 previous convictions, which date from the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a link between his offending behaviour and drug abuse.

She noted that the cycle of addiction had been broken - but not the cycle of offending.

The judge said the offence had clearly been a planned armed robbery of a substantial amount of cash being transported to a security company. She imposed a five-year sentence, but suspended the final year.

Gda Denise Bowes told Tom Neville, prosecuting, that staff member Diraj Boodho and security worker Michel Cieslik were in the process of delivering two bags of cash containing €50,730 for lodgement when two men came up behind them and demanded the money.

Clinch and McWeeney were dressed as builders, wearing high-viz jackets and white dust masks. Clinch put the gun to the head of Mr Cieslik before grabbing the money and the raiders ran off down a set of stairs.

Maintenance man Barry Smith saw the pair running away and, following "significant tussles", the robbers were restrained until gardai arrived.

Solvents

All the money was recovered at the scene. The pistol was found to contain ammunition not suitable for use in that weapon.

Colm O'Briain, defending, said McWeeney began abusing solvents at a young age and progressed to heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine. He stopped all drugs at the age of 39 and went cold turkey.

Mr O'Briain said McWeeney - of Main Street, Belmayne, Malahide Road, Dublin - had not only rehabilitated himself in terms of drug use, but had also been of assistance to others in similar situations.

He said he had been drawn back into the criminal activity that led to this offence as a result of debt built up during his time using drugs.

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