Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I've never seen children so traumatised' - Scenes in family home during aggravated burglary 'barbaric'

* Gang of seven sentenced to up to 20 years each
* Three children witnessed violent attack
* Solicitor said he'll 'never forget the children's fear'

Published 01/10/2015 | 18:34

THE scenes in a family home hours immediately after an horrific aggravated burglary by a gang of thugs have been described in devastating detail by the family's solicitor.

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Mark and Emma Corcoran were asleep with their three young children in their family home in Burnchurch, Co Tipperary when seven men armed with hammers, guns and a hatchet broke into the house in the early hours of November 21, 2013.

The couple were in court today as the men, all in their 20s and from Dublin, were sentenced to prison terms, having pleaded guilty on earlier dates to a single count of aggravated burglary each.

The court heard earlier in the week that the 'terrified screams' of the Corcorans’ three young daughters, aged eight, six and two at the time of the burglary, could be heard by gardaí through a 999 call made by Emma Corcoran as the incident was taking place.

Solicitor Mr Kieran Cleary, of Cleary & Co Solicitors in Clonmel, described the 'horrific' scenes he witnessed when he arrived to the house a few hours after the burglary.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Liveline, Mr Cleary said he will 'never forget the fear in the young children's faces'.

Patrick Gately, 26, from Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin
Patrick Gately, 26, from Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin

"Myself and my son, who is a solicitor, went over in the morning and it was like the Holocaust," he said.

"I've never seen anything like it in a home, the fear there, the fear on the children, they were frozen with it.

Thomas Flynn,Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin . Picture Liam Burke
Thomas Flynn,Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin . Picture Liam Burke

"It was frightening, they were terrified, they couldn't speak or let go of their mother. If their father went to the kitchen they were terrified. It was horrific...

"They came through the door and the window of this lovely country bungalow. Mrs Corcoran is a petite lady and her husband isn't a big man.

Michael McDonagh from Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Michael McDonagh from Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

"They were roaring, shouting, banging drawers and kicking doors.

"It was like they had been attacked by an army. The doors were smashed, the window was smashed, furniture was hammered with hatchets, I can't even describe it," he continued.

Donal O'Hara, from Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Donal O'Hara, from Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

Read more here: The Dublin criminal gang who terrified a young family in home raid had 315 previous convictions between them  

"It was just horrific. But it was the fear on the children, I'll never forget that, as a parent and a grandparent.

Dean Byrne, from Cabra Park, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Dean Byrne, from Cabra Park, Dublin. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

"It's incredible that you could frighten a two-year-old like that." 

Mr Cleary described the terrifying ordeal Mark and Emma suffered as their three children watched in horror.

John Joyce, from Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin;. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
John Joyce, from Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin;. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

"They attacked the husband with the butt of a gun, splitting his eye in front of the children. He was knocked unconscious," he said, speaking after the sentences were handed down this afternoon.

"They threatened to chop his feet off unless this money was handed over, money they didn't have.

"Mark has had four major operations on his eye since, he couldn't work for years.

Patrick Joyce from Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin . Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Patrick Joyce from Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin . Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

"He couldn't drive, their business is gone. Emma can't leave the house without her children, she can't go to the toilet or shopping without it being a nightmare.

"They've had medical issues about it.

He continued: "This is a bungalow with three small babies and a young couple.

"And fortunately Emma had the phone beside her in bed and she rang 999, she only had seconds to do it.

"She put the phone under the bed and the response people alerted gardai, otherwise they wouldn't be here today no doubt."

"Emma was attacked by one of the criminals, who knew she would have had a phone on her. She said she didn't have a phone. She wouldn't have been able to do that only she had the phone right next to her.

"I don't know why they chose that house. They got some information from somebody, the Corcorans are in the business of renting out gym equipment to houses, they wouldn't have had cash on them in the house. I don't know who got the information or why, but they had the wrong house."

Sentences were handed down shortly before 12 noon at Clonmel Circuit Court by Judge Thomas Teehan who described the effects of the burglary on the Corcoran family from Co Tipperary as 'catastrophic'.

The seven men were led from the court in handcuffs, a few of them joking and smiling, blowing kisses to the awaiting media.

There were two sections of the Garda Armed Response Unit deployed and a number of gardai were also deployed to the courthouse for security measures for two days this week.

Mr Cleary described scenes outside the courthouse.

"Well it was high drama and I've never seen, in 40 years practising the law in the courts, I've never seen such security since Mount Batten in the Special Criminal Court over 40 years," he told Liveline.

"Emma and Mark were in court, they stuck together throughout this entire case, they are very much loyal together.

"They were very nervous, it's a terrible situation to be sitting there in front of the people who tried to kill you.

"The judge mentioned them and thanked them for their courage and their conviction to do what they did.

"They don't want to do any interviews now, they can't take it, there's medical issues involved here now," he continued.

"It was a barbaric act of the highest level."

In court, the accused had a senior counsel, a junior counsel and a solicitor each for the case. They were all receiving legal aid, paid for by the taxpayer.

Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 17,  was given a sentence of 20 years, with four suspended, backdated from November 21 of 2013.

Patrick Gately (28) of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17, was also sentenced to 20 years, with four suspended for 10 years.

John Joyce (21) of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin, was sentenced to 15 years, with four of those suspended.

Patrick Joyce (23) of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9, was given a sentence of 14 years, with four suspended.

Thomas Flynn (21) of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, with three of those suspended.

Donal O’Hara (22) of Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended.

Michael McDonagh (23) of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17, who was the only defendant with no previous convictions, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven of those years suspended.

All of the suspensions were for 10 years and to come into effect upon them leaving prison, under conditions including keeping the peace, staying free of alcohol and drugs and engaging with the Probation and Welfare Service.

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