ATM queue 'gun robber' lost his nerve
ARMED: Man had fake firearm
A DUBLIN man who battled with "a devil and an angel on his shoulder" as he tried to work up the courage to rob customers queuing at an ATM has avoided a jail term.
Reformed drug addict James O'Brien (31) was armed with a handgun-shaped cigarette lighter he had bought years previously in a novelty shop.
Judge Tony Hunt accepted that it was a crime committed out of a sense of desperation and that "he did not have the courage in his conviction to carry through with his intentions".
"It is clear that this was nothing but an imitation firearm but that does not say it would not have been convincing enough to make someone part from their money," the judge said.
He said it was "notable" that despite having had a heroin addiction since he was 14, O'Brien has never come to significant garda attention.
Judge Hunt accepted O'Brien had since made "sterling efforts" to deal with his addiction and is drug-free.
"I am going to help him along his way but he is to be of good behaviour for a significant period," Judge Hunt said before he sentenced O'Brien to three years, suspended.
O'Brien, of Georges Place, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of an imitation firearm with intention to commit robbery on Grafton Street, on December 12, 2009.
Garda Jonathan Petrie told the court he and a colleague spotted O'Brien walking up close to people queueing at an ATM on Grafton Street.
They watched him for 10 minutes before he moved on to a different ATM on Wicklow Street.
O'Brien immediately admitted he had an imitation firearm and said he was intending to rob someone at the ATM.
O'Brien later told gardai he had been waiting for someone to withdraw a lot of cash from an ATM so he could rob them but said he did not have "the balls" to go through with it.
"There was a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other and I was trying to convince myself to do it," he said.