herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Raiders who bound and gagged woman avoid jail sentences

TWO men who bound and gagged a woman during a terrifying ordeal at her home have walked free from court.

Lee McLaughlin and James Leedham had been remanded in custody earlier this week by a judge while he considered the sentence.

At Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday, Judge John O'Hagan suspended three-year sentences for the pair.

Both men had pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and false imprisonment.

The court heard how the men forced their way into a house at The Mullins in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, on September 29, 2013.

It was 1.45pm and Shannon Doherty and her sister Danielle were watching television.

McLaughlin (20), of Station Road, and Leedham (18), of Allendale Park, both Buncrana, and a third man had hidden their faces with hoodies and one was carrying an imitation firearm.

Patricia McLaughlin, prosecuting, said Shannon Doherty had managed to escape by jumping out the window.

However, the men grabbed 20-year-old Danielle.

They tied her hands with plastic cable ties and put duct tape across her mouth to stop her screaming.

They then tried to lock her in a wardrobe.

The raiders stole cigarettes and €58 cash and only fled when neighbours, alerted by Shannon, came to help.

The men, with Jason Bonner, from Aghilly, Buncrana, fled across nearby fields and were caught by gardai.

Bonner had already been handed a suspended prison sentence.

angry

The men had decided to carry out the raid on the house after watching a movie, the court heard.

In a victim impact statement, Danielle Doherty said she had been left terrified by the incident and always locked the doors at her home.

An angry Judge O'Hagan had remanded McLaughlin and Leedham in custody last Monday so they could see what prison life was like.

"The deviousness which they did it with was quite frightening - the taping of the mouth, using cable ties, attempting to put her in the wardrobe - it's like something you would see in the movies," said the judge.

"I really do hope the four days they have had in Castlerea was a time of reflection and that they should not wish to be there again."

He sentenced both men to three years' imprisonment for each charge but suspended the sentences for three years and ordered them to be of good behaviour.

hnews@herald.ie

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