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'Paranoid' robbery and assault accused 'feared assassins', court hears

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Jonathan Murtagh with his brother Keith

Jonathan Murtagh with his brother Keith

Jonathan Murtagh with his brother Keith

A young man who "practically strangled" a shop worker in an alleged robbery was suffering from "rampant paranoia" and believed assassins were coming to hurt him, a court has heard.

Jonathan Murtagh (25) is accused of assaulting the staff member while stealing a bottle of rum, but his defence said he grabbed the bottle to protect himself because he thought he was being followed.

Mr Murtagh had been given a Garda Information Message - or 'GIM' notice - that he was under threat because of a family member at the time of the incident, his defence said.

He is the brother of Keith Murtagh - a senior member of the Hutch gang, who survived several attempts on his life linked to the Hutch-Kinahan feud.

Keith Murtagh was jailed last November for 12 years for his role in the armed robbery of a Dublin post office.

Judge Patricia McNamara refused to grant Jonathan Murtagh bail and remanded him in custody when he appeared in Dublin District Court.

Mr Murtagh, of Mariner's Port, Sheriff Street, is charged with robbery and assault at Spar, Five Lamps, on May 20.

Objecting to bail, the prosecuting garda cited the nature and strength of the evidence.

He said there was "compelling" evidence against Mr Murtagh and "excellent quality CCTV" footage.

He said it was alleged the accused entered the shop and made his way to the till, where he climbed over the counter and Covid-19 barrier and entered the staff area.

It was alleged he grabbed a bottle of Captain Morgan rum from a display and when he was confronted by a staff member, he put his arm around the man's neck in a choking manoeuvre.

The store manager called 999 and when gardai arrived, the accused was still at the scene.

It was further alleged Mr Murtagh was violent after his arrest, stripped naked in his cell in a garda station and urinated.

The garda said Mr Murtagh had been caught red-handed and lived close to the shop.

Gardai believed if granted bail, he could return to the shop and put staff in fear.

Mr Murtagh had been given a a GIM notice because of a family member and was suffering from "rampant paranoia", his solicitor said.

He came to believe someone was following him, ran into the shop and grabbed a bottle to protect himself, she said.

He had asked staff to ring gardai and stayed in the shop because he "believed there were assassins outside who were going to hurt him", his solicitor added. "He thought the gardai weren't really gardai, he thought they were people dressed up in garda uniforms."

Poisoned

When he got to the garda station, he believed they had poisoned his food.

The accused's family were very concerned about his mental health, his solicitor said.

The prosecuting garda agreed that it was stated that Mr Murtagh had "asked the staff to call the cops".

"It's an extremely unusual situation where an alleged robber would invite the person who he is alleged to be robbing to call the police," the solicitor said.

The garda said: "It could also show how out of control he was."

The judge said the allegation was the accused "practically strangled" the shop worker.

She refused bail and remanded the accused in custody to appear in court again on a later date.