By Stephen Bourke & Fiachra Gallagher
A man who threatened to stab the driver of a car before hijacking the vehicle and then crashing it has been jailed for five years.
Prior to the hijacking in Dublin city centre, Alan Behan (29) stole a number of personal affects and some money when he broke into a building site nearby.
The offences were in breach of bond conditions imposed on Behan, of Barnaville Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin, after he received a four-year suspended sentence for stealing €2,500 from an elderly man in August 2016.
Behan was sent forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on signed pleas of guilty from the District Court to charges of the unlawful seizure of a motor vehicle on Capel Street, Dublin City centre, and trespass and theft from a building site on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin City centre, on the morning of August 1, 2020.
He also pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving, driving without a license and driving without insurance.
At a hearing last April, Garda Karl Howard told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that around 8.20am, Bernard Hudson was stopped at traffic lights at the junction of Capel Street and Great Strand Street when a man got into his car through the front passenger door.
“Get the fuck out of the car, I’ll fucking stab you,” the man told him.
Mr Hudson got out and watched as his blue Toyota Corolla was driven over Grattan Bridge and into the south city area, Gda Howard said.
Gardaí arrested Behan later that day when he crashed Mr Hudson’s car into two stationary vehicles on Walkinstown Avenue.
None of the occupants were hurt, but Behan was still in the car when gardaí arrived and he was arrested at the scene.
Gardaí had taken CCTV footage from businesses near the carjacking and were able to trace the suspect’s movements for the 50 minutes prior, Gda Howard said. Behan could be seen on the footage entering a building site, where he took a hard hat and high-viz jacket and put them on.
A carpenter had some valuables and a small amount of cash taken from his things in the site’s drying room, while a crane driver found the keys to his car had been taken, along with €20 in cash and a pack of cigarettes.
Behan then “attempted to walk through the car park for approximately 15 minutes looking for the vehicle,” Gda Howard said, miming the pressing of an unlock button on a remote key fob to the court.
“His main goal was acquiring a vehicle,” he said.
When he was interviewed, Behan said he had been treated in hospital the night before and discharged, and remembered being on the streets of the city centre and going into a building site.
Behan also remembered getting into a car, screaming at the driver to get out, and driving off, he said.
Gda Howard said Behan identified himself on CCTV footage he was shown and that he could remembered being arrested, but could not remember the crash. He apologised and expressed concern for the welfare of Mr Hudson and the occupants of the two cars.
In his victim impact statement, Mr Hudson said he now felt “vulnerable driving alone, especially at night, which is needed for my work”.
“I was previously the victim of a serious crime in which firearms were used and this has made it all come flooding back.”
His car was written off and he had to buy a new one out of pocket, he said.
Handing down sentencing yesterday, Judge Karen O’Connor considered the aggravating factors of the offences, including the threat of violence during the hijacking, the premeditated nature of the robbery and Behan’s dangerous driving.
Judge O’Connor also acknowledged that Behan had an “extremely chaotic” upbringing “marred by addiction”, and that he suffers from “significant” mental health difficulties.
Judge O’Connor jailed Behan for a total of five years, with a further two and a half years suspended.
Behan received an effective sentence of three and a half years for the charges before the court today, and will serve a further year and a half of his previously suspended four year sentence. The remainder of the earlier sentence was suspended.
Judge O’Connor complimented Behan on his letter of apology submitted to the court, saying “you write very well”.
“It’s a pity I don’t think very well,” Behan replied.