A street mugger who stole a bottle of vodka by sticking it down his trousers received a suspended sentence in the District Court this week (November 14 ) after the judge accepted he had made efforts to change his life.
Gary Lawrence (30 ), with addresses at College Park, Athlone, and St Martha’s Hostel, Longford was in court to plead guilty to the theft of the vodka from Dunnes Stores on September 1.
However, it was when details of his 39 previous convictions were read to court that Judge Seamus Hughes took some interest.
These included a two-year jail sentence in June 2010 for the production of a weapon in a fight, as well as four robberies, all committed on June 18, 2010.
“How did you manage four in one day?” asked the judge.
“Street robberies, muggings. Taking money off people,” said Lawrence.
“When you say muggings, did you hit them over the head?” asked Judge Hughes.
“No. There was no violence,” said Lawrence.
“I bet it wasn’t pleasant,” ventured the judge.
“I would’ve implied I had a knife,” conceded Lawrence.
The judge asked what he was spending this on, and the defendant admitted he spent it in headshops.
“What sort of stuff? Cat’s Miaow?” asked the judge, to the amusement of the court.
Lawrence admitted to a habit of injecting a cocaine substitute, as well as heroin, but had begun to change his ways after nearly losing his leg through septicaemia, and had cleaned up in Coolmine rehab after his release from prison in April this year.
“But you still have sticky fingers,” said the judge, noting the date on this charge had occurred since his stint in rehab.
Lawrence admitted to “taking a few valium tablets” on this occasion as he was “strung out with a hangover”, but that he wasn’t back on drugs.
“You let yourself down here. You made great efforts to get off heroin then you go drinking and taking drugs. I want to give you an incentive to stay off the drugs,” said the judge, suspending Lawrence’s two-month sentence for three years.