A three-year jail sentence was handed down at Galway Circuit Criminal Court this week to a man who terrified a city centre bookies’ clerk during a robbery in which he stole up to €800 in cash and brandished a scissor blade.
The court heard on Tuesday how Kenneth Mooney (41 ) of 22 Plunkett Drive, Finglas, Dublin, had severe gambling addictions which started on slot machines as a youth and that these problems grew over the years, resulting in him owing debts to the tune of €40,000. Feeling that his life had spirralled out of control, Mooney went on a nine-day spate of robberies targetting a number of premises throughout the country including a Ladbrokes betting office in Galway.
Detective Garda John Maloney gave evidence that on June 22, 2009, at 2pm, one member of staff had been on duty behind the counter at Ladbrokes in High Street along with two punters on the main floor. When the other customers left, Mooney approached the counter, produced a bag and removed an implement, a scissors’ blade, before agressively banging his fist on the counter top and demanding the clerk take money out of the till and put it in the bag.
“She was in total fear and complied,” said Det Garda Maloney, who said that Mooney then left the shop on foot carrying the bag containing between €700 and €800, and gardai were called. Gardai took a statement from the distressed clerk, viewed CCTV footage and from that the security at Ladbrokes were able to identify the culprit as he was known to them. Mooney then presented himself at Finglas Garda Station on June 26 and he was arrested in connection with another matter. However during interview he confessed to the Galway robbery and was subsequently charged.
Det Garda Maloney explained that Mooney “made no attempt to disguise who he was” during the robbery and that “it is believed the robbery is a result of his gambling addiction”. He said that Mooney had carried out a total of 10 similar attempted robberies in Dublin from September to November 2002 and in July 2004 Mooney received 240 hours of community service and was ordered to pay €8,059 in compensation. In December 2009 Mooney received a 10-month sentence for theft, and last year he received a five-year jail sentence with the last two suspended for robbery, a sentence which he is currently serving.
Mooney’s barrister said that the Galway robbery was the fourth out of a total of five robberies committed in the space of nine days and that these took place in numerous locations including Navan, Ratoath, and Killarney. She said that Mooney had had a bad gambling addiction which resulted in him owing €40,000 and that he had been travelling the country and sleeping rough in his van at the time these offences were committed.
Mooney’s sister Susan Browne told Judge Raymond Groarke that the gambling addiction had begun at a very young age but that her brother had always been in full time employment. She said that because of his gambling his salary, by consent, had been paid into her account for safe keeping for more than 20 years. Ms Browne said Mooney had tried for many years to deal with his problems, that he had been the sole carer for his ill mother, and had worked constantly.
“He is very remorseful for what happened. He is a fantastic character, outside of his gambling,” said Ms Browne.
The defence barrister further explained that her client’s gambling addiction started when he was a juvinile playing slot machines. She said that Mooney managed to hold down a job until a week or two before the robberies, that he had been a sports coach for the West Finglas youth squad, and had linked in regularly addiction counselling groups. However, as his mother became more ill and he realised the amount of money he owed his family, Mooney began to feel his life was out of control and he went on this spate of robberies for nine days.
Regarding the effect the incident has had on the ex-Ladbrokes staff member, Judge Groarke said: “She was subjected to a vile, vicious attack”. Judge Groarke then imposed the three year jail sentence to commence immediately.