Seven Dublin men who carried out aggravated burglary get sentences between 12 years to 20 years
Prison terms ranging from five years to 16 years have been imposed on the seven men who admitted carrying out an aggravated burglary on the home of a young family two years ago.
Sentences were handed down shortly before 12 noon at Clonmel Circuit Court by Judge Thomas Teehan who described the effects of the burglary on the Corcoran family from Co Tipperary as “catastophic” and said the crime imposed by the gang of seven was near the top end of the highest level of seriousness for this type of crime.
Mark and Emma Corcoran were in court as the men, all in their 20s and from Dublin, were sentenced to prison terms, having pleaded guilty on earlier dates to a single count of aggravated burglary each.
The court heard earlier in the week that the “terrified screams” of the Corcorans’ three young daughters, aged eight, six and two at the time of the burglary, could be heard by gardaí through a 999 call made by Emma Corcoran as the incident was taking place in the early hours of November 21, 2013.
Shortly before the seven gang members were led away from the courtroom, some of them shouting as they left, Judge Teehan offered his best wishes to the Corcorans.
“I’m quite certain everyone in court has enormous sympathy for what you have endured,” he told the emotional couple after he issued the prison terms.
“I’d like to wish you every possible success and for your children in your efforts to recover from this. No doubt your own determination will be very important in that regard. Nobody could possibly ever forget what you have gone through.”
The judge added that, over the years, he found that the victims of crime “who recover best” from the effects of those crimes are those who find some measure of forgiveness for the perpetrators. “You may find that impossible or at least very difficult,” the judge said.
Emma Corcoran said “thank you, your honour,” in response.
Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 17, was given a sentence of 20 years, with four suspended, backdated from November 21 of 2013.
Patrick Gately (28) of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17, was also sentenced to 20 years, with four suspended for 10 years.
John Joyce (21) of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin, was sentenced to 15 years, with four of those suspended.
Patrick Joyce (23) of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9, was given a sentence of 14 years, with four suspended.
Thomas Flynn (21) of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with three of those suspended.
Donal O’Hara (22) of Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended.
Michael McDonagh (23) of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17, who was the only defendant with no previous convictions, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven of those years suspended.
All of the suspensions were for 10 years and to come into effect upon them leaving prison, under conditions including keeping the peace, staying free of alcohol and drugs and engaging with the Probation and Welfare Service.
The only time any of the defendants spoke in court was to acknowledge the terms of their suspension bonds.
The seven Dublin men in their 20s admitted the offence at the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three young daughters.
The gang entered the family's house in Burnchurch, a rural area outside Killenaule in Co Tipperary, armed with a shotgun, handgun and machete, early on November 21, 2013.
The Corcorans were in fear of their lives and the lives of their children, aged eight, six and two at the time, during the incident, a hearing at Clonmel Circuit Court was told yesterday.
Victim impact statements were read out for all five members of the family, in which Mr Corcoran said he felt an enormous sense of guilt because he couldn't do anything to protect his family during the burglary.
"My eldest daughter was standing over me, crying 'Daddy is dead'. I can only describe it as like being at my own funeral, without being dead," Mr Corcoran said in his statement.
Emma Corcoran said the happiness and memories from the house in which she'd grown up had been taken away.
"I will never get over seeing my husband being beaten in front of me that night and my kids looking on. My kids wake up every night with nightmares and live in fear of what happened."
Dean Byrne, from Cabra Park
The couple's eldest daughter said: "I thought my daddy was going to die when the robbers beat him up. There was blood everywhere. I don't feel safe at home any more. Whenever I hear a bang, I think the robbers are back."
The couple's middle daughter, who was six at the time, said in her statement that she didn't want to think about "the bad men who hurt my mum and dad".
The youngest daughter, who was two at the time, was awake during the incident and was in her cot, "rocking herself and her teddy" and "shaking with fear".
Detective Sergeant James White told the court that Mark Corcoran, who was sleeping in a back bedroom as he had an early start the next morning and didn't want to wake the family, was awoken by a man in a black balaclava, "brandishing a large knife" and another man who had a handgun.
Mr Corcoran was struck in the face with the butt of a gun and sustained a fractured eye socket as raiders demanded he lead them to a safe. His hands were tied behind his back with cable-ties and one of the raiders knelt on his back.
"The eldest two children were awake and in the hallway," Sgt White said. "They could see what was happening to their father." Mr Corcoran "thought he was going to be shot," the court heard.
His wife Emma was awoken by the sound of glass breaking and made a 999 call before leaving her phone under the bed with the call still active.
"The one thing that is most clear in the 999 recording was the terrified screams of the children," Sgt White said.
At one point Emma Corcoran was "forcibly removed" from her bedroom and saw her husband being struck in the face. She was also told "we'll kill your f**king kids" by one of the raiders.
The Corcorans had a gym equipment-supply business at the time, but there was no safe in the house. The raiders took about €1,300 in cash as well as jewellery.
They travelled in convoy from Dublin to Tipperary, stealing a car in Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny on the way, on the night of November 20/21 in 2013 and were apprehended by gardai at two locations on the motorway system as they tried to make their getaway back to Dublin.