Father-of-three who stole €2,500 from 87-year-old man outside bank receives suspended sentence

By Isabel Hayes and Brion Hoban

A father-of-three who robbed an elderly man of €2,500 while suffering a “manic episode” has received a fully suspended sentence, reports Isabel Hayes and Brion Hoban.

Alan Behan (27) with an address in Benmadigan Road, Drimnagh pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of robbing cash from then 87-year-old Robert Lynch outside a Bank of Ireland branch in Walkinstown, Dublin, on August 26, 2016.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016

Judge Karen O’Connor sentenced Behan to four years imprisonment for the offence, but suspended the entirety of the sentence.

Det Garda Kevin O’Shaughnessy told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that Mr Lynch visited a Bank of Ireland in Walkinstown on the day in question and withdrew €2,500.

As he was walking back to his car, Behan appeared and grabbed hold of him, demanding he hand over the money.

As Mr Lynch struggled to protect the cash in his pocket, he fell to the ground before Behan made off with the cash.

Mr Lynch was extremely afraid during the incident and suffered a small cut to his arm but has made a full recovery, the court heard. He did not wish to make a victim impact statement. Gda O’Shaughnessy said.

Behan was identified by gardai on CCTV footage and arrested a few months after the offence. He has 17 previous convictions, including dangerous driving, drink driving, aggravated burglary, and assault.

James Dwyer SC, defending, said his client was extremely remorseful and had asked gardai if he could apologise personally to Mr Lynch prior to the case being heard.

This was arranged at a previous court date and Mr Lynch had accepted Behan’s apology with “incredible graciousness”, the court heard.

Mr Dwyer said that Behan had €600 in court to compensate Mr Lynch and had vowed to pay back all the money he robbed. Behan apologised “face to face” to his victim outside the courts.

The court heard Behan has been living in temporary hostel accommodation with his partner and three children.

He suffers from significant mental health issues, including anxiety and bipolar disorder, Mr Dwyer said.

Medical records were handed up to court which said Behan was suffering a “manic episode” and was “not of sound mind” at the time of the robbery.

At the time of the offence, he had not taken his medication and was under the influence of cannabis and other drugs, the court heard.

In the letter of apology, Behan said he was sorry for his actions and “disgusted” at himself. He said he thinks about the robbery of Mr Lynch every day.

“I wish I could take it back,” Behan wrote in a letter read out in court. “Ever since I committed this crime, I've tried to make up for it every day by doing good things for people.”

Judge O’Connor noted Behan had made the choice not to take his medication and despite his mental state, “had the wherewithal to choose his victim carefully”.

“He didn’t follow a young man who might have been able to put up more of a fight,” the judge said.

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