A robber who held up the post office in Mullinavat and left his imitation gun for gardaí to get his fingerprints was sentenced to four years in prison, with the final two and a half years suspended.
Karol Trawicki of no fixed abode admitted the offence at the post office on August 3, 2016.
The court heard that on the morning in question the postmistress was working when she heard the door open and a person came in and said that they had a parcel for Mullinavat Post Office.
She asked him which courier company he worked for and he reached into a plastic bag and rummaged around and took out a gun. There was a gap in the glass partition and he pointed it and her and said 'open the door or I will shoot'.
He pointed the gun at her throughout the robbery and ordered her to open the safe which she did and stole €5,200.
He then told the postmistress that he was 'leaving the gun' and that 'his fingerprints were on it'. He also informed her that his fingerprints were on the counter and he gave her his name for gardaí before cutting the telephone wire.
The terrified postmistress later told gardaí that she 'did not know whether she would live or die'. The robber ran out and a group of men ran after him and got him and tied him up until the gardaí arrived. There was also CCTV evidence which identified him.
The gun used was a plastic pellet gun, which he had got from his sister's husband. The court heard that the defendant co-operated fully with gardaí and told them that he was 'going to Waterford to buy D 10's' (valium type drugs) and that he intended on giving the money back.
The defendant was on bail at the time of the offence and has 19 previous convictions including convictions for drugs, criminal damage, careless driving and no insurance.
Defence barrister, Elaine Morgan said in relation to her client that it 'was apparent that all was not well from a mental health perspective'.
“He saw his GP when he was in custody and he was prescribed medication'.
Ms Morgan commended the reaction from the public on the day in question. “The community responded in a way one would expect in a small town in Ireland.” She also described her client as 'a man who had something amiss and seriously amiss'.
On the morning of the robbery the defendant was seen walking in the middle of the road in Mullinavat and had two black eyes and was described by a member of the public as being 'spaced'. The court heard that the robber insisted 'on a high five' with the injured party.
Ms Morgan described 'the bizarre conduct' of her client of leaving the imitation weapon and placing the fingerprints on the counter to assist gardaí. The defendant also asked the postmistress for a piece of paper and wrote his name for the gardaí and described it as 'amateur'.
The court heard that the defendant admitted what he did and said that he was sorry and told gardaí of an incident where he was beaten. He also told gardaí that he was suffering from depression and wanted valium and asked gardaí to 'shoot him' and was 'upset and distressed'. He also asked to convey his regret and to apologise to the postmistress, and to the gardaí and the people of Mullinavat.
The defendant is currently serving 18 months for the attempted robbery of the Polish shop in Wexford in November 2015.
“All the property was recovered thanks to the good intervention of the people of Mullinavat.”
A victim impact statement was read out to the court - the postmistress described it as 'terrifying and traumatic being held at gunpoint for more than seven minutes'. She added that she is now nervous of strangers in the post office and now finds work 'quite stressful because of this'.
The defendant is a 26-year-old Polish national who moved to Ireland at 16 and commenced working.
“Unfortunately substance misuse is a feature from a young age which led to a significant deteoration in mental health. Alcohol was a feature in his life from the age of 12 or 13 and he then stated using cannabis, cocaine, heroin and other drugs.”
At the time of the incident he was 'homeless and estranged from his family'.
“He was strung out, mentally unwell and in debt over drugs,” added Ms Morgan.
Judge Brian O'Callaghan said that the court accepts that he was clearly in a bad place at the time.
“I have to say that your actions were unusual to put it mildly, strange most certainly, prehaps weird. But the unusual circumstances cannot mask the seriousness of the offence and the frightening nature of the offence for the injured party,” he said.
Judge O'Callaghan imposed a four year sentence and suspended the final two and a half years on condition that the defendant enter a bond for a period of three years and be of good behaviour from the date of release and be placed under the supervision of the Probation Services.
The judge ordered that the sentence run consecutively to the sentence he is currently serving.