Judge jails serial burglar who held screwdriver to neck of primary school principal during raid
James Cranny, right, the moment he approached St Joseph’s National School principal Orla Egan, left, and Frank Gearty, middle, in August 2020.
March 04 2021 04:12 PM
A serial burglar with over 140 previous convictions who held a screwdriver to the neck of a primary school principal during an armed raid last year has been sentenced to three years in prison.
James Cranny (38) 14 Meadow Crest, Boyle, Co Roscommon, was handed down the sentence at a sitting of Longford Circuit Criminal Court this morning following an incident at St Joseph’s National School, Dublin Road, Longford on August 27, 2020.
Mr Cranny, who pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery, three charges of attempted robbery and one charge relating to the possession of a weapon contrary to the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990.
The court heard the accused had been in Dublin on the day of the offence where he consumed a “cocktail of drink and drugs” including almost 80 sleeping and valium tablets before getting off a train in Longford shortly after 6pm.
Less than an hour later, Mr Cranny, who has 70 previous convictions for burglary, interrupted a board of management meeting at the Longford town national school in a bid to steal money to try and procure more drugs.
The court heard the accused who first became addicted to drugs at just 12 years old, stormed into the building, shouting: “This is not a joke, I want €800.”
Armed with a screwdriver and pair of scissors, Mr Cranny approached principal Orla Egan and put a screwdriver to the right hand side of her neck.
After being told by Ms Egan she had no money, Mr Cranny turned his attentions to local solicitor and board of management chairperson Frank Gearty.
In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Mr Gearty handed Mr Cranny €100 and guided him towards the exit door.
In total, the accused stole €135 from the Longford-based solicitor and a further €100 from fellow board member Beatrice Shanley.
The court was also told the latter had the foresight to take photographs of Mr Cranny during the heist while another board member and local priest, Fr James McKiernan “very cleverly and surreptitiously” managed to contact gardaí at the same time.
Mr Cranny, who the court heard, had endured a “wretched life” with his “second home” being Mountjoy Prison, wrote letters of apology to each of his five victims.
“It’s not about what or who I rob, it’s about getting my next fix,” said Mr Cranny in response to his actions on the day.
“What I did to threaten people was no excuse and I deserve what I get.”