Mugger jailed for vicious attacks

Galway Courthouse

A 25-year-old mugger has been sentenced to four years in prison, with the final year suspended, for assaulting people while robbing their mobile phones.

Father of two, James Barrett, 46 Beal Srutha, Ballybane, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to carrying out three robberies and two serious assaults on young people he attacked at random in the early hours of September 15, 2017.

Garda Pat Foley told the sentence hearing Barrett came upon two young men going into their apartment at St Brendan’s Avenue, Woodquay around 2.30am following a night out and demanded they hand over their wallets and mobile phones.

The young men refused and a struggle ensued during which one of them was assaulted and a mobile phone taken from him.

Barrett ran and went to Eyre Square where he walked through a large congregation of students who had just come out of various nightclubs.  He approached a young man who was on his iPhone 5. He was punched in the face when he refused to hand it over and suffered a cut lip and damage to his teeth.

His friend was knocked unconscious when he tried to intervene. He suffered a gash to the back of his head when he hit the pavement and was removed by ambulance to hospital.

Barrett kept moving through the crowd and punched another man in the face too. His phone was stolen from him as he lay unconscious on the ground. He regained consciousness at the scene and declined to go to hospital.

Garda Foley said he located Barrett a short time later, arrested him and took him to Galway Garda Station where he found €85 and an e-cigarette on him during a search.

The e-cigarette belonged to the last victim who had been knocked unconscious in Eyre Square and the €85 matched the amount stolen from two of the other victims.

Barrett admitted his involvement in the spate of muggings but said he had a hazy recollection due to his intoxication from drink and drugs.

None of the victims wished to come to court and all declined to give victim impact statements.

Garda Foley confirmed Barrett had 26 previous convictions including five for similar type assaults and several for thefts and was out on bail at the time of the offences. He had received custodial and suspended sentences in the past.

Defence barrister, Aisling Wall said Barrett received a three-year sentence with one year suspended in Roscommon in November 2017 for assaulting another prisoner and that sentence had just expired.

She said Barrett was sorry for what he did to the victims.

His father had died when he was a teenager and this had an effect on him.

Ms Wall said Barrett had two young children now and he only got to see them a couple of times a year since being in prison.

“He doesn’t want to be going in and out of prison for the rest of his life, like his father was,” Ms Wall added.

Reading probation and psychiatric reports which had been handed into count on Barrett’s behalf, Judge Rory McCabe remarked Barrett was blaming his father and everyone else for his actions but only he could change his behaviour.

He sentenced him to four years with the final year suspended for five years for each of the robbery charges, the sentences to run concurrently.

He imposed concurrent three-year sentences for the assault charges and recommended Barrett receive addiction treatment if he wanted to while serving his sentence.