Man jailed for drug-fuelled robbery of €27,000 worth of designer glasses

Two men on a drugs binge who robbed €27,000 worth of sunglasses from the Ray-Ban store in Dublin city centre had taken “everything from tablets to crack cocaine”, a court has heard.

Jason Kelly (53) and an unnamed accomplice used a steel stanchion they found nearby to smash through the front door of the Grafton Street store at 2:30am.

They stole 170 pairs of designer sunglasses and eyeglasses, which they then stuffed into a sleeping bag and dragged away, in an incident captured entirely on CCTV.

Kelly, of Lower Oriel Street, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to robbing the opticians on July 12th, 2023, and was sentenced to three years in prison at a sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

In his ruling, Judge Martin Nolan said he assumed the pair had sold the glasses, to which counsel replied that any money made would have gone straight towards buying drugs.

Judge Nolan acknowledged the premises had been unoccupied at the time and that Kelly had been under the influence, but said it was a “serious enough” burglary, noting the pair had caused over €4,000 of damage to the doors.

The judge said Kelly, who is currently serving a separate sentence, has a long history of offending, with 160 previous convictions, mostly from the District Court.

“He does quite well in prison, but does he have the internal fortitude to change his life? That’s up to him,” Judge Nolan said.

‘Hare-brained idea’

Garda Will McCarthy told the court that CCTV footage gathered from Grafton Street showed the two men taking it in turns to lift a heavy iron implement and smash the shop door, which was made of reinforced glass.

They were seen taking the sunglasses and filling the sleeping bag to capacity before dragging it away.

Kelly was arrested but said nothing of evidential value during the interview.

Ray-Ban gave gardaí a glossary of the stock taken, listed as 170 pairs of glasses valued at €27,089.

Derek Cooney BL, defending Kelly, described the robbery as a “hare-brained idea” by two people who got it into their heads that this would be an easy crime to fund their drug lifestyle.

He said Kelly had met up with the co-accused on the day and gone on a binge, taking “everything from tablets to crack”.

Mr Cooney said Kelly had witnessed domestic abuse in the home from an early age and had suffered violence at the hands of his father.

The court heard Kelly has been in and out of prison since serving his first sentence at 16, and had developed a heroin addiction over the last 20 years, which he struggled to contain.

Kelly also suffered a brain injury when he was the victim of an assault, counsel said.

Mr Cooney said his client is doing well in prison, where he is on an enhanced regime, and wants to start studying some educational courses in September.

Kelly has numerous health difficulties and has had two minor heart attacks. His spleen has been removed, and he suffers from depression, high blood pressure and fits, the court heard.

Kelly told his counsel that his urine analysis tests are clean and that he intends to commence treatment to address his drug addiction.

“This is an escalation of any of his previous offences; he doesn’t know what came over him. He had been consuming drugs all day long,” Mr Cooney said of his client.

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