Saturday 16 December 2017

'Cowardly' addict jailed after snatching bag off elderly woman in street

Bag thief Damien Costello
Bag thief Damien Costello

A drug addict who "tore a handbag" from a 78-year-old woman less than an hour after attempting another mugging has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Damien Costello (37) was told by Judge Dermot Dempsey that he had committed "a cowardly and despicable act against the two women" and jail was the only appropriate place for him.

Costello, who has 19 previous convictions, approached the first woman (53) while she was on her way to work in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, just before dusk on a February evening last year, Swords District Court was told.

He grabbed her handbag but the strap broke and he got away with only that.

Around 40 minutes later, he approached the 78-year-old woman and ripped a handbag from her shoulder before running off with it.

The handbag contained a number of bank cards, a holy medal and identification along with money.

Costello was later found by gardai trying to use the woman's bank card at an ATM in Balbriggan.

Gda Nicholas Duane told the hearing that the handbag thefts happened when it was getting dark, and Costello appeared to be under the influence of drugs at the time he was arr- ested.


Costello, of Kilbush Lane, Rush, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to the thefts of the handbags on Dublin Street, Balbriggan, on February 10 last year.

Two of his 19 previous convictions were for theft, the court heard.

David Costello, defending, said the defendant has a difficulty with drugs.

"He overdosed last September and was in a coma for a few weeks and his mother, who was a stabilising influence on him, died in 2015," he said.

"He doesn't exactly have great family support and he wasn't in the right state of mind on the day."

Mr Costello added that the defendant is on a dose of 70ml of methadone and has linked in with the Peter McVerry Trust, the charity set up to reduce homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage.

Lawyer Mr Costello added that the defendant is currently before a drugs court - problem-solving courts that take a public health approach to helping addicted offenders into long-term recovery - and asked Judge Dempsey to remand his client back there to continue the programme.

However, Judge Dempsey said it was a "cowardly and despicable act against the two women" and added that he was not prepared to send Costello back to the drugs court.

"A custodial sentence is appropriate. He robbed the two women late in the evening and community service is not appropriate either," said Judge Dempsey.

He sentenced Costello to seven months in prison.

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