A man held a meat cleaver to a shop assistant’s throat and demanded another assistant fill a plastic bag with cash.
Darren Quigley, aged 25, appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to the frightening robbery.
The court was told that father-of-two Quigley was high on a cocktail of drugs and a bottle of whiskey when he held up the Checkout convenience store at Lower Main Street, Letterkenny on August 14th, 2016.
Quigley entered the store with a hoodie over his head and a scarf around his face and grabbed one of the shop assistants around the neck and held the meat cleaver to his throat.
He then shoved a plastic bag to another assistant and ordered her to fill a plastic bag with cash.
Quigley then ran from the store with €970 in cash in the bag.
Detective Garda Tom Kilcoyne just happened to be in the area in an unmarked patrol car when he first spotted Quigley.
It was a warm summer evening and Detective Kilcoyne’s attention was drawn to a man wearing a padded jacket with a scarf over his face.
The Garda got caught in traffic but circled back around and saw a man running out of the local Checkout store and he noticed the man was holding a weapon which he thought was a knife.
He radioed for back-up and the man ran towards Lower Main Street with Detective Kilcoyne in pursuit.
He shouted at the man to stop and took out his official firearm ordering the man to stop.
The man tried to hide in undergrowth but was trapped by a fence and was eventually arrested after raising his hands and giving himself up to Detective Kilcoyne.
Giving evidence in the case, Detective Peter Cullen said that it would have been impossible to find the culprit but for Detective Kilcoyne.
“If Garda Kilcoyne was not there we may have been chasing shadows,” he said.
When caught, Quigley claimed his name was ‘Timmons’ but eventually gave his real name.
When interviewed at Letterkenny Garda station he said he was high at the time of the robbery and did not remember doing it.
Two shop assistants who were in the store at the time of the terrifying ordeal were also in court and their victim impact statements were handed in to Judge John Aylmer to read.
Barrister for Quigley, Mr Damien Crawford said his client was originally from Carlow but had moved to Donegal to live with his girlfriend and before this incident had no previous convictions.
Since the robbery he has tried to turn his life around and is now drug-free and had a job in security but lost it after checks were done and it was discovered he committed this crime.
Mr Crawford said this “project” was doomed to failure as Quigley was high, actually lived near the shop he had targeted and was even recognised by one of the assistants.
He said he now has two children and has been offered jobs in landscaping and construction.
Judge Aylmer adjourned the case until next Tuesday for sentence as he considers the victim impact statements.