Dublin criminal gang were 'so dangerous' they inspired Love/Hate pipebomb storyline
Love/Hate pipebomb storyline based on dangerous criminals
The seven 'savages' sentenced to lengthy jail terms for terrorising the Corcoran family at their Tipperary home should all have been in prison at the time, gardai said yesterday.
All the men had been arrested multiple times and brought before courts and had received automatic bail, despite the growing litany and seriousness of the charges they were facing.
The gang was responsible for a series of at least 20 pipe-bomb attacks on rivals in the north Dublin area, including the exploding of devices under or beside caravans containing young children.
The manufacture of pipe bombs by the gang sparked a storyline in the drama Love/Hate, which made judicious use of real-life events in its portrayal of gangland Dublin.
Read more here: €35,000 legal aid but no compensation for Corcoran family
Gardai described the gang, led by 'Fat' John Joyce (21) from Coolock, as one of the worst of the marauding late-night raider gangs. They instilled terror in rural areas over a two-year period before they were finally captured after the November 2013 raid on the Corcorans' home in Killenaule, Co Tipperary.
Garda sources said there was "no reason" other than the State's inadequate bail and probation procedures why the gang remained at large and free to terrorise families like the Corcorans.
"There was no reason, no reason, this crowd of savages shouldn't have been serving time (at the time of the raid)," one source said.
The case highlighted what gardai have been saying for years regarding the absence of an adequate criminal justice system to imprison multiple offenders, rather than repeatedly release them on bail.
One of the gang, Dean Byrne (22), from Cabra, who received a 20-year sentence, had 120 previous convictions yet had served only a tiny amount of time in jail.
Gardai again said that the activities of the gang could have been severely curtailed if the Government had introduced electronic tagging, putting ankle bracelets on repeat offenders and imposing curfews and restrictions on their movements.
Around 40,000 offenders in the UK are currently subjected to electronic tagging. The system is managed by private security firms, who immediately notify police if offenders break the restrictions on their movements.
There are no offenders currently subjected to electronic surveillance here other than a very small number of prisoners released early and who are regarded as a threat to members of the community.
Nor is there any system in place for monitoring repeat offenders, such as the gang sentenced last week.
Garda sources said there was relief at the "very heavy price" in sentences imposed on the seven gang members by Judge Thomas Teehan at Clonmel Circuit Court on Thursday.
The sentences are at the upper end of punishment for the offence of aggravated burglary, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The judge said he was imposing the sentences due to the "catastrophic effect" the raid had on the Corcorans.
Imposing jail terms which he said which should send a message "in the clearest and most unequivocal terms" Judge Teehan imposed sentences of:
- Twenty years on Dean Byrne (22), of Cabra Park, Dublin, who had 120 previous convictions.
- Twenty years on Patrick Gately (28), of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin, who had 85 previous convictions.
- Fifteen years on John Joyce (21), of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin, who had 55 previous convictions.
- Fourteen years on Patrick Joyce (23), of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, who had 16 previous convictions.
- Twelve years on Thomas Flynn (21), of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, who had 20 previous convictions and is already serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for a separate offence.
- Twelve years on Donal O'Hara (22), of Glin Park, Coolock who had 19 previous convictions.
- Twelve years on Michael McDonagh (23), of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, the only defendant with no previous convictions. The judge Teehan suspended parts of the sentences due to the guilty pleas.
The gang was well known to gardai and had been under surveillance by the armed Emergency Support and Surveillance units up until shortly before the raid on the Corcoran home.
It is understood that as the ERU and surveillance units were stood down they notified other gardai who were on duty in the Midlands region about the gang, who were armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a handgun and a machete.
The Coolock-based gang differed somewhat from the other, mainly Traveller, family gangs responsible for hundreds of raids on isolated homes and village businesses in recent years in that it was comprised of both settled and Traveller members.
They all grew up together, having met in school, and all pursued paths into increasingly violent crime, gardai in Dublin said yesterday.
They were particularly known for manufacturing and using crude but deadly pipe bombs, which they mainly used against other members the Travelling community as part of their campaign of extortion and robbery.