'I thought my daddy was going to die when the robbers beat him'
Published 30/09/2015 | 02:30
An eight-year-old girl told gardaí she thought her "daddy was going to die" as he was assaulted by an armed gang during a burglary in her family's home, a court heard.
Seven men in their 20s from Dublin, who have admitted the offence, 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, outside Killenaule in Co Tipperary, as trespassers, armed with a shotgun, handgun and machete, early on November 21, 2013.
A hearing at Clonmel Circuit Court was told that 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.
The seven who have pleaded guilty to the offence are John Joyce (21) of Lentisk Lawn, The Donaghies, Donaghmede, Dublin; Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 7; Patrick Gately (28) of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17; Thomas Flynn (21) of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17; Patrick Joyce (23) of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9; Michael McDonagh (23) of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17 and Donal O'Hara (22) from Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17.
They travelled in convoy from Dublin to Tipperary, stealing a car in Castlecomer, on the night of November 20-21 in 2013. They were apprehended by gardaí at two locations.
Detective Sergeant James White said that Mark Corcoran, who was sleeping in a back bedroom as he had an early start the next morning, was awoken by a man in a black balaclava, "brandishing a large knife" and a man with a handgun. They shouted "where is the safe?" and "where is the money?".
Mark Corcoran was led into the living area of the house and struck in the face with the butt of a gun and sustained a fractured eye socket. 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 had a clear view of what was going on. They could see what was happening to their father. They could hear the raiders making threats."
Mr Corcoran "thought he was going to be shot", the court heard. His wife Emma Corcoran made a 999 call before leaving her phone under the bed with the call active.
"The one thing that is most clear in the 999 recording was the terrified screams of the children," Sgt White said.
She was "forcibly removed" from her bedroom and saw her husband being struck in the face. She was also told "we'll kill your f***ing kids".
"Emma Corcoran was without doubt in fear of her life and that of her three children."
The Corcorans had a gym equipment-supply business, which they since closed as a result of their ordeal, but there was no safe in the house. The raiders took about €1,300 in the previous day's takings and petty cash, as well as jewellery.
The raiders took the Corcorans' family car, a seven-seat Kia Sorento, as well as their own Volkswagen Passat.
Mr Corcoran was in court, but did not give evidence, while his wife was not present. Victim impact statements were read out and Mr Corcoran said he felt an enormous sense of guilt.
"My eldest daughter was standing over me, crying 'daddy is dead'. I can only describe it as being like being at my own funeral, without being dead."
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 youngest daughter, who was two at the time, was found in her cot, "rocking herself and her teddy" and "shaking with fear".
Judge Teehan said he would hand down the sentences tomorrow morning.