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Yoghurt thief hurled basket at shop worker in 'despicable' attack

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Sean Carey (30) was also found to have cocaine worth €80 in his possession as well as a stolen laptop when stopped

Sean Carey (30) was also found to have cocaine worth €80 in his possession as well as a stolen laptop when stopped

Sean Carey (30) was also found to have cocaine worth €80 in his possession as well as a stolen laptop when stopped

A thief confronted for stealing in a supermarket assaulted a store worker by throwing a shopping basket at her in a "despicable" attack during the coronavirus lockdown.

A court heard that workers were already anxious and stressed in the early days of the pandemic when Sean Carey assaulted two female shop assistants, pushing the second one over.

Judge Grainne Malone said it had been a "horrendous experience" for the victims but gave Carey an 11-month suspended sentence after hearing that he had already spent a month in custody.

Carey (30) pleaded guilty to theft and assaulting the two shop workers as well as threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour at Fresh on Camden Street. He also admitted possession of cocaine and a stolen laptop.

Jacket

Dublin District Court heard the incident happened on March 21 last.

Carey, whose address was given as a city hostel, entered the shop with another man, went to the fridge section and took €101 of protein yoghurts, placed them in his jacket and was confronted by staff as he left.

Carey became aggressive and pushed over the first shop worker before picking up a shopping basket and throwing it at the second woman. It struck her but she was not injured.

He dropped the items he had taken and left.

When he was stopped by gardai, Carey was "volatile" and extremely aggressive and abusive to them.

He was brought to Pearse Street Garda Station, where he was found to be in possession of €80 of cocaine.

Carey also had a laptop in his possession that had been stolen earlier that day from a man who worked in a homeless hostel.

The prosecuting garda said he believed the accused had taken substances at the time.

He considered it an aggravating factor that the incident happened "shortly after the country went into complete lockdown" due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying shop workers were "quite anxious" and "didn't need this".

Carey had spent a number of weeks in custody before taking up bail, his solicitor Rory Staines said.

He accepted it "can't have been a pleasant experience for the staff in the shop".

The circumstances and the stressful environment they were working in made it "particularly unpleasant for them", Mr Staines said.

"This was the last thing they needed," he added.

Stressful

The accused had problems with drugs and homelessness but had cleaned up his act in recent months, Mr Staines said.

A friend had died of an overdose, which had an "eye-opening effect" on Carey.

Judge Malone said her main concern was for the shop workers who were in an already stressful situation when they were "subjected to a horrendous experience".

"He's thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour," Mr Staines told the court.

Carey had a large number of previous convictions but none was for assault.

Judge Malone said the accused's behaviour was despicable and it was an aggravating factor that it happened during the pandemic.

She suspended the sentence for two years.