A father-of-two pointed a realistic looking imitation gun into the face of a cash-in-transit van driver during an armed hold up has been jailed for five years.
James Tracey (32) and a co-accused were arrested as Tracey got into a getaway car parked at the bottom of an embankment on the M3 motorway, not far from the hold up at the Aldi in Clonee, Co Meath.
Tracey of Dunsink Park, Finglas, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of a firearm with intention to commit robbery and robbery of a cash box on January 6, 2020.
The court heard that Tracey pointed a realistic imitation pistol into the face of a cash-in-transit van driver who had just done a cash pick up at Aldi.
Tracey shouted “drop the box” and the driver froze, took a step back and put his hands in the air. Tracey ran off and went over a wall and made his way down through the shrubbery of the motorway embankment.
Another man was waiting in a car there and had opened the passenger door for him. As Tracey got to the car members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit moved in and arrested both men.
Tracey still had the cash box and the €27,000 cash in it was recovered in full.
The court heard that victim's hands were shaking so badly that he couldn't press the panic button and he broke down crying when he got home later that day.
In a victim impact statement he said he thought the pistol was a real gun and that he got the shock of his life. He said he still feels more anxious and nervous as a result of the robbery.
Seamus Clarke SC, defending, told the court that his client lost his job as a painter the month before the robbery and had a new born baby and a two year old son.
He said his instructions are that his client had developed a secret drug addiction at the time and had built up a large drug debt and needed money to pay this. Detective Superintendent Derek Maguire told Judge Codd that he had “no evidence to suggest there was a drug problem there”.
Tracey's former employer told the court that he had employed him as a painter and he was a “trustworthy, great worker”. He said he let him go in December because of a slowdown in business but said he would have no problem hiring him again.
Dt Supt Maguire told the court that the majority of Tracey's 60 previous convictions are for road traffic offences.
Judge Pauline Codd said that Tracey was “caught red-handed”. She said she accepted his remorse as genuine and noted he is assessed at being at a moderate level of reoffending.
She suspended the final two years of a seven year sentence on condition that post release supervision for two years