‘Complete turnaround’ in life for former drug user

By Fiona Ferguson

A former drug user who robbed shops while in the throes of a crack cocaine and heroin addiction has received a suspended sentence after a “complete turnaround” in his life.

Laurence Bryan (36) had committed the robberies at knifepoint in 2016 to feed his habit after relapsing into drug use two weeks after his release from a four-year prison sentence.

Laurance Bryan compressor

Laurence Bryan turned his life around and won a place on the Irish Homeless World Cup team

He told gardai after his arrest he had taken as much heroin and crack cocaine as he could get his hands on. He said he didn’t intend to hurt anyone but needed the money for drugs.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard last week that Bryan has since turned his life around after completing a residential drug treatment programme.

Bryan, of Brookview Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to four robberies and two attempted robberies at shops in the Tallaght area between March 31, 2016 and April 8, 2016.

Bryan has 132 previous convictions, including a five-and-a-half-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended, imposed in 2014 for previous robberies.

Judge Melanie Greally initially heard evidence in this case in 2017 and had adjourned it to allow the residential drug treatment programme to be completed.

At that time in 2017 she told Bryan that she was not making any promises, but it appeared that four years in prison had not served him or the community well.

“You were back to square one within a number of weeks,” Judge Greally said “So it is clear some alternative to a sentence, even with a suspended period, will be needed to break the cycle.”

Judge Greally said these had been extremely serious robberies committed by Bryan in the throes of an extremely destructive addiction to crack cocaine and heroin.

She said there had since been a “complete turnaround in his circumstances” She noted he had undertaken a horticultural course and begun moving into the employment market.

Judge Greally said the future was now bright for Bryan after taking these steps towards rehabilitation and wished him the very best of luck. She imposed five years imprisonment which she suspended in full on strict conditions.

At the original hearing Sarah Jane O’Callaghan BL, defending, said her client had very tragic and difficult personal circumstances, including his brother being shot and witnessing his two-year-old sister being run over by a bus when he was ten years old.

Counsel said he had done very well in school before he began dabbling in drugs as a 16-year-old.

Ms O’Callaghan said her client now had insight into how his victims felt and the carnage he was causing.

Former armed robber Laurence Bryan’s “turnaround” in life was evident to see when The Echo met the Tallaght native at the Mansion House last June, during the announcement of the Irish Homeless World Cup team.

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