By Fiachra Gallagher
A man who pepper-sprayed and beat a man with cerebral palsy before stealing his phone has been jailed for five and a half years.
Phillip McCabe (22) and an accomplice also stole a purse and iPhone from a Spanish woman on the same date.
McCabe, with no fixed abode, was involved in a serious road traffic accident some time after the offences, and was in a coma for a number of months before gardai could question him in relation to the robberies.
McCabe told gardai that he could not remember the robberies because of head injuries sustained in the accident, but admitted he “probably” committed the offences, because he was a “scumbag” who “would do anything for money” and to fuel his drug addiction.
McCabe pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of robbery on March 3, 2019, at separate locations on Malahide Road, Clontarf, and Collins Park, Donnycarney.
Detective Garda Paul Daly told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, a woman who had just arrived in Ireland from Barcelona was waiting at a bus stop when she was approached by two men, including the defendant.
Initially thinking the men were also waiting for the bus, the woman shouted “no, please” when they began to wrestle her iPhone from her hand.
The injured party was punched in the face and the chest during the altercation, with the men fleeing the scene with the phone, as well as her purse.
The woman was brought to a garda station by a good Samaritan to report the incident. The court heard that while the complaint was being filed, the garda station received reports of another robbery.
Det Gda Daly told the court that the two men from the previous robbery had followed a male leaving a Circle K garage on the Malahide Road, before ambushing him in a laneway.
The assailants began “choking” and beating the man and, after pepper-spraying his eyes, took his iPhone.
They demanded that the injured party erase everything off the phone and said they would stab him if he didn’t do what they said.
McCabe was eventually interviewed by gardai on November 7, 2019, after his recovery from the road traffic accident. He claimed all “negative memories” had been erased from his mind following the accident, but made admissions to gardai about his involvement in the offences.
The accused man told gardai he was “totally off the rails” at the time of offending, in reference to his serious issues with drug addiction.
In the Spanish woman’s victim impact statement, which was furnished to the court, she said that she “forgives” the accused man, and hopes that he “grow in a different direction”.
McCabe has 112 previous convictions and has been in custody for several years of his life.
Defence counsel Simon Matthews BL outlined to the court that during his client’s stint in hospital, none of the friends he kept during the time of offending came to visit him, which acted as a “moment of realisation” for the accused man.
Matthews also stated that the defendant’s hard drug abuse fuelled his behaviour during the offences before the court today.
Judge Martin Nolan said that the robbery of the man was “very, very distressing”, although he accepted the defendant would not have been aware of the injured party’s health conditions.
Judge Nolan sentenced McCabe to five and a half years for the robbery of the man in Donnycarney, and three and a half years for the other count on the indictment.
He ordered that both sentences will run concurrently for an effective operative sentence of five and a half years imprisonment.