Clondalkin thief said ‘Open the till or I’ll blow your head off’

By Sarah Jane Murphy

A man who robbed a convenience shop with an airgun and was in the process of burning the cash when gardai arrived to arrest him will be sentenced later.

Derek Cooling (29) and another man entered the More For Less store and pointed the air gun at a female employee standing behind the counter, shouting “Open the till or I’ll blow your head off.”

Dublin Courts 4

Cooling of Old Church Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of the shop in Bawnogue Shopping Centre, Dublin 22 on July 18, 2016.

Garda Barry O’Shea told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, the cashier opened the till and handed over the cash in the drawer.

The court heard the raiders then kicked in the door of an office at the rear of the store where the shop manager was watching the events unfold on CCTV.

Garda O’Shea said the manager was hit on the head with the air gun and was ordered to empty the contents of the safe into a bag. Both employees feared for their lives during the robbery.

Garda O’Shea said gardai followed a blood trail left by one of the raiders who injured himself during the robbery.

“We observed smoke coming from the chimney of a nearby house which struck us as very strange as it was a warm summer’s day,” he said.

The court heard that gardai entered the house and found Cooling and another man burning items of clothing and money.

In a victim impact statement the cashier said she was unable to return to work in the store following the robbery. She was too afraid to leave her home for weeks and had to take medication to help her sleep.

Mr Collins said the manager of the store suffered from paranoia and anxiety in the aftermath of the robbery.

Kitty Perle BL, defending, said Cooling was heavily intoxicated when he carried out the robbery, to such an extent that his behaviour was “bizzare”.

“The fact that the men were burning the cash when gardai arrived at the house defies all logic,” she said.

Ms Perle said Cooling, who has 26 previous convictions, was from a good and decent family and had had substance abuse problems since he was a teenager.

Judge Patricia Ryan ordered a psychiatric report, and adjourned the matter until October.

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