'I thought my daddy was going to die' - girl (8) who saw father beaten at home
"I thought my daddy was going to die when the robbers beat him up. There was blood everywhere."
These were the words of a terrified eight-year-old girl whose family were victims of a violent aggravated burglary at their home.
Seven Dublin men in their 20s have admitted the offence and will be sentenced tomorrow for their part in the incident 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."
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.
The seven who have pleaded guilty to the offence are: John Joyce (21), of Lentisk Lawn, The Donahies, Donaghmede; Dean Byrne (22), of Cabra Park; Patrick Gately (28), of Primrose Grove, Darndale; Thomas Flynn (21), of Moatview Avenue, Coolock; Patrick Joyce (23), of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods; Michael McDonagh (23), of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock and Donal O'Hara (22), from Glin Park, Coolock.
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.