A Longford national school principal has told a court how she was frozen with fear after a masked raider held a screwdriver to her throat during an armed robbery at the school last year.
Orla Egan has been describing the moments which led up to an incident at St Joseph's National School, Dublin Road, Longford on August 27, 2020 at a sentencing hearing today.
38-year-old James Cranny, of 14 Meadow Crest, Boyle, Co Roscommon pleaded guilty to six counts of robbery, attempted robbery and the production of a screwdriver at Longford Circuit Court following the incident last autumn.
At his sentence hearing this afternoon, Ms Egan said she had called a meeting of the school's board of management in a bid to devise a Covid-19 response plan to the ongoing public health emergency.
During the course of the meeting, the accused entered the school and interrupted the meeting shouting: "This is not a joke, I want €800."
The principal described feeling "utter fear and trepidation" and said that Mr Cranny "had the capacity to inflict serious injury."
The court also heard victim impact statements from three other members of the board including from local solicitor and board chairman Frank Gearty.
He had a total of €135 taken from him on the evening in question after Mr Cranny stormed into the building.
A further €100 was taken from fellow board member Beatrice Shanley who said she had struggled to move on from the incident.
Mr Cranny, who has over 140 previous convictions, read out letters of apology to each of his alleged victims, including local priest Fr James McKiernan.
"I will forever regret and I am sorry for what I done," he said.
Counsel for the defence said her client was someone who had endured a "wretched" life and had been in and out of prison most of his adult life.
The court heard he had consumed almost 80 sleeping and valium tablets before he was found sitting on a wall moments after the incident.
Judge Keenan Johnson described the incident as an "appalling" act against a vulnerable set of volunteers who are the "unsung heroes" of the State's education system.
Mr Cranny was remanded in custody until next Thursday, March 4 when sentencing will be finalised.