Thursday 21 February 2019

'If the cancer doesn't kill you, I will', baseball bat thug told man (61)

Jason Burke pleaded guilty to the attack on James Delaney
Jason Burke pleaded guilty to the attack on James Delaney

A 61-year-old cancer patient who was subjected to a terrifying 40-minute ordeal during which he was battered around the head and body with a baseball bat has said he was targeted because his attacker knew he was weak with the disease.

Speaking outside Ennis Circuit Court after details were heard of the brutal and frenzied assault perpetrated by Jason Burke (21) on James Delaney at his Shannon home last July, Mr Delaney said: "I feared for my life. At times I thought that was it, that it was over."

During the assault, Burke told Mr Delaney: "If the cancer doesn't kill you, I will kill you."


Mr Delaney is currently being treated for prostate, stomach and bowel cancer, and wept as he said: "I felt totally powerless and I was ashamed - ashamed that I couldn't defend myself because I was so weak."

Mr Delaney was on crutches at the time of the attack, after breaking a leg in three places.

"The cancer had taken all the strength away from me," he said.

"Burke knew that and he would know every part of my history. I was completely helpless. I could do nothing. I thought I was going to die that day.

"I am not showing bravado about this, but if it was a few years previous, he would never have come near my house in the first place - even with a baseball bat."

Mr Delaney had acted as a mentor in the past to Burke in trying to the keep him on the straight and narrow, and Mr Delaney said he had no fear when he allowed Burke into his home on July 26 last year.

"He is standing there and he wants my cancer medication," Mr Delaney said.

"I turned my back and he hits me with the baseball bat I had never even seen. I was totally immobile. When I was standing at the kitchen sink with the crutches, that is when he first hit me.

"I escaped with my life. You can take that he was there to kill me. The way he started, he wasn't going to stop."

In the case, Burke, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Delaney at his home at Fana Gheal, Shannon.

He also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Delaney.

Judge Gerald Keys has adjourned sentencing to May 21.

Mr Delaney, who lives in an area of Shannon popular with retirees, said he found it very hard to listen to details of the assault.

In court, Det Gda David Laing said Burke was "in a frenzied rage and he was shouting and roaring that he was going to kill James Delaney and that he was the king".

The detective said that after the initial baseball strike to the head, Burke hit his victim across the shoulder and chest area with the bat.

He then head-butted Mr Delaney three times and foll-owed up with kicks to the groin and right leg.

Det Gda Laing said Mr Delaney scrambled to get out the front door but was hit on the head with the baseball bat once more and suffered a momentarily loss of consciousness.

Burke issued a further threat to his victim that he would not let him out of the house and that he was going to kill him.

Burke came across some of Mr Delaney's medication under a couch, and he also went through Mr Delaney's kitchen cabinets looking for more.


Mr Delaney said he only managed to get Burke out of the house when saying that his son - who is 6ft 2in and a steel fixer - was due to arrive, as he does every day to check on his father.

Counsel for Burke, Patrick Whyms said that on the day, Burke said he had a bottle of Hennessy, four cans and 50 tablets.

Gardai later found Burke walking around Nenagh in a disorientated and intoxicated state and in possession of Mr Delaney's medication.

In his first garda interview, Burke describe the allegation around the assault as "all bulls**t".

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