A man has been jailed for four years for his part in a robbery at Gowran Post Office.
During the robbery the post master was injured in the “horrific experience.” The money stolen has never been recovered.
Kilkenny Circuit Court imposed the jail sentence on James Cash, formerly of 2 Ardristan Heights, Tullow, and currently in custody.
Mr Cash pleaded guilty to robbery.
The incident took place on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, when three masked men armed with a pickaxe handle and a piece of timber went into Gowran post office, just after it opened that morning. The men smashed a security screen and demanded money, making off with a substantial amount of cash.
The getaway car was later found burned out by gardaí.
Judge Orla Crowe described the incident as “highly planned and highly premeditated.”
The investigation spanned a number of counties and a huge amount of CCTV was inspected, Kilkenny Circuit Court heard. A Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat were seen travelling in convoy on the morning of the robbery.
CCTV also showed the three masked raiders smashing the security screen and James Cash scaling the post office counter.
The postmaster received minor injuries in the incident, small abrasions to his forehead and a finger.
He has now retired from the postal service.
Kilkenny Circuit Court heard that Mr Cash did not hit the postmaster but he did admit to burning the getaway car.
The cars were bought a day or two before the robbery.
Mr Cash has more than 50 previous convictions, Judge Crowe noted, delivering her judgement. She also acknowledged he has since expressed remorse.
However, she said, Mr Cash was first charged on January 24, 2021. He failed to turn up in the district court and the circuit court on several occasions and travelled to Northern Ireland and the UK in the years since. For part of that time he was serving a jail sentence in the UK.
Mr Cash has had a drug problem since the age of 14, the court heard, and his family home life was chaotic.
Judge Crowe said there were elements of planning but also of spontaneity in the incident.
Substance abuse was behind Mr Cash’s offending, she said, and he is a very different man now to the man he was then. He has attended addiction counselling and other courses while in custody.
Mr Cash’s previous convictions included 11 counts of burglary, four counts of handling stolen property, incidents of escaping lawful custody and an assault. He served a sentence in the UK for burglary.
Judge Crowe said a Probation Report had judged Mr Cash at high risk of reoffending if he does not address his problems.
The ten-year delay in the case coming to court in Kilkenny was down to Mr Cash’s own behaviour, the judge said. It had taken two bench warrants to bring him to court then he went to another jurisdiction where he offended and was jailed.
Aggravating factors in the case were that the crime was “highly planned and highly premeditated,” Judge Crowe said. The two cars used by the men were bought in advance and later burned out.
The judge said the arrival of three men wearing balaclavas and armed, was a “horrific experience” for the post master, who, fortunately, seems to have moved on.
Judge Crowe said there were mitigating factors in the case. Mr Cash has come to a considerable level of realisation and wants to put things right. He is a father of four, with obligations and duties and sees things in a different way. In a letter to the judge Mr Cash said he wanted to live a ‘quiet and peaceful life.’
The judge said the offence warranted a custodial sentence. She imposed a jail term of five years, back dated to the day Mr Cash was taken into custody.
She suspended the final 12 months of the sentence on condition Mr Cash enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years from his release, attend all appointments with the Probation Service and engage with services as directed.
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