Robber Gets Seven Years

THE Co. Clare man who was arrested in Maine in 2006 on armed robbery charges was sentenced Tuesday, February 19 to a total of seven years in prison with three additional years of supervision upon release. Niall Clarke, 27, who pleaded guilty to robbing a bank at gunpoint on October 4, 2006, was sentenced to 33 months in prison on count one charges - armed robbery, count three charges - providing a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a fire arm - and a count four charges - unlawful possession of a fire arm. All three sentences are to run concurrently. Clarke, who is currently being held in Cumberland County Jail in Portland, was also sentenced to 84 months on count two charges, brandishing a firearm during a federal crime of violence. This sentence will run consecutively to the others also taking into account the time Clarke has spent behind bars to date. Upon release, Clarke will have a further three years of supervision from the courts. U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Junior recommended to the Bureau of Prisons, the governing body that decides the location a prisoner serves his sentence, that Clarke be returned to Ireland for as much prison time as possible. Clarke, who overstayed his visa waiver, is expected to be deported immediately after his release, if he serves the full 84 months in the U.S.Clarke was arrested while driving southbound on Interstate 95 on October 4, 2006 while fleeing from a mall in Bangor after robbing a Bank of America at gunpoint. Clarke was caught with more than $11,000 in cash and a loaded .38-caliber handgun and a box of ammunition. He surrendered the gun and ammunition upon arrest, which he claimed he bought the day previous to the robbery at a military supply store in Brewer, Maine. He lied on the application form to purchase the gun, stating that he was a U.S. citizen.Clarke, who hails from Kilrush, Co. Clare but was living in Portland at the time of the robbery, pleaded guilty in January 2007 to charges of robbery. Clarke's attorney, Richard Hartley sought to withdraw his client's plea, hoping to change it to not guilty by reason of insanity, after an evaluation by a psychiatrist last May but changed his mind in November. It's very rare a judge will allow a change of plea. Clarke's evaluations concluded that the Clare man suffers from a severe mental illness. Clarke's parents Michael and Mary, who live in Kilrush, visited their son early last year. They apologized to the community of Bangor for their son's crime. The Clarke Family had lost contact with their son when he disappeared in 2006. They didn't even know if their son was still alive. Michelle Clarke, Niall's sister, searched for her brother on the Internet one day and discovered that he had been arrested for an armed robbery. Clarke, who was once chosen to participate in a mathematical Olympiad and won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2002, graduated from Trinity College in Dublin in 2003. He went on to set up a software company called LeCayla the same year. It was during this time that Clarke began suffering from stress and anxiety. He sought refuge in an acupuncturist, began studying yoga, meditation and the power of alternative healing. It still wasn't enough so he decided to go to India to get away from everything. Upon his return his parents thought it time to seek help from a psychiatric day care center. He refused and one day vanished.

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