Shocking Ordeal for the Pensioner, three Thugs, one Brought back, from Romania?

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Man who mugged woman (73) who had just won €23k in city centre casino jailed for three years

 1st November 2022

A MAN WHO mugged a 73-year-old woman who had just won €23,000 in a city centre casino has been jailed for three years. 

Man who mugged woman (73) who had just won €23k in city centre casino jailed for three years©Hutton

Iancu Nicola (31) mugged the victim as she was collecting post from the postbox outside her home. He and his accomplice Declan Connolly (41) had followed the woman from the casino to her home. 

A third man, Brian English (32), had earlier monitored the activities of the woman in the casino.

Nicola, previously of The Boulevard, Mount Garret, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of the woman outside her home in Templeogue on 7 October 2016. He has six previous convictions for road traffic offences. 

Nicola absconded the day after the attack and was ultimately arrested in Romania five years later. He was brought back to Ireland on foot of a European Arrest Warrant in October 2021. He has been in custody pending sentence since his arrest. 

Connolly was sentenced to five years in prison with the final two and half years suspended, while English was given a three-year suspended sentence by Judge Martin Nolan in November 2019. 

Connolly, of Coultry Drive, Santry Avenue, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the robbery. He has 11 previous convictions for minor offences which were dealt with in the District Court. 

English of Chancery Hall, North King Street, Dublin, pleaded guilty to stealing the €23,000 from the woman after gardaí were satisfied that he acted as “a spotter” that evening and passed on information in relation to the victim. He has no previous convictions. 

Sentencing Nicola this morning, Judge Melanie Greally suspended the final 18 months of a four-and-a-half year prison term. The suspension is on condition that Nicola keep the peace and engaged with the Probation Service after his release. 

Ian Woodland BL, defending, said his client had got involved in the offence because he had a gambling addiction at the time. Nicola’s sister had €18,000 in cash to be forwarded to the victim in the case. 

Detective Garda Peter Lyons said gardaí viewed a large amount of CCTV footage from the area and believed that the getaway vehicle had been fitted with false registration plates. They were then able to determine the true details of the car which had been registered to Connolly. 

Connolly’s home was searched, his mobile phone was seized and analysed and he was arrested. He made no admissions during garda interview. 

Detective Garda Lyons said CCTV footage from The Fitzwilliam Casino and Card Club, where the woman had successfully won the cash playing roulette, showed English monitoring her activities. A warrant was secured to search his home and a mobile phone was taken for analysis. 

The analysis showed communication between the phones up to the time the woman left the casino and CCTV footage also showed English approaching Connolly’s car at one point. 

English was arrested and interviewed but again made no admissions. 

Detective Garda Lyons said the woman was dragged down an embankment during the mugging and was left with severe bruising and cuts. 

Additional evidence from sentence hearing in 2019 

Detective Garda Lyons agreed with Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending English, that his client’s role was to act as the “spotter in the casino” and that he was “very much out of his depth”. 

Detective Garda Lyons said he wouldn’t expect English to get into trouble again but he never found out why he got involved in the offence. He had €6,500 in court to offer as a token of remorse. 

He agreed with Kenneth Kearns BL, defending Connolly, that he has no convictions for violence and has not come to garda attention since. He accepted he had “a positive work history” and is a father to two children. 

Ó Dúnlaing said his client was fully aware he had “one foot in the door of Mountjoy Prison” but asked Judge Nolan to accept that his guilty pleas was offered on the basis of “joint enterprise”. 

“He is the least culpable. The most culpable isn’t even before the court,” counsel submitted before he added that English became involved after he was put under duress to pay off a gambling debt. 

Kearns said his client had €5,500 in court to offer as a token of remorse before Connolly took the stand to apologise for his actions.

“I have never been involved in anything like this before or since,” Connolly said, before he added that he had been attending counselling regularly to deal with his gambling addiction. He had a letter of apology for the victim.

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