A man has been jailed for holding a knife to a 65-year-old man after breaking into his home because he mistakenly thought someone had given him “the finger” from a window.
James McGuire (27) had been mixing alcohol and prescription medication when he believed he saw someone in an upstairs window making the gesture to him.
The victim, Kevin Tormey, who had armed himself with a brush when he heard noises downstairs, found McGuire in his home brandishing kitchen knives.
McGuire demanded to know where the man’s son was. Mr Tormey told him he was alone in the house. He then tried to flee but McGuire stopped him and a struggle began.
McGuire punched and kicked the victim and held a knife to his throat before threatening to kill him.
Mr Tormey felt blood running down from his neck. A passer-by and a neighbour called gardaí who arrived minutes later. By this time Mr Tormey had managed to escape and run across the road.
McGuire of Mobhi Road, Glasnevin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary and assault causing Mr Tormey harm at Claremont Court, Glasnevin on October 26, 2012.
He was sentenced to three and half years with the final year suspended. He was also ordered to stay away from the victim and his family for 15 years.
Garda Andrew Lake told prosecuting counsel John Fitzgerald BL that Mr Tormey suffered cuts and scrapes to his face and neck. He is now afraid to be in his home in case McGuire returns.
The court heard McGuire fled when gardaí arrived at the scene but was caught near-by and arrested.
In interview he claimed he was in a dispute with the victim’s son, Stuart, over money but Gda Lake said this was not true.
The garda said the last dispute between the two happened when McGuire was eleven years old and that he had not spoken to the other young man for several years before the attack.
McGuire also claimed that when he was walking past he saw someone “give me the finger” from an upstairs window but conceded this could have been a hallucination brought on by alcohol and drugs.
Judge Patricia Ryan pointed out to Mr Tormey’s family, who were in court to support him, that the maximum penalty for assault was five years. She added that she had to give McGuire credit for his guilty plea and lack of previous convictions.
She suspended the final year of the sentence on strict conditions including that he co-operate with the Probation Service for two years upon his release. He also has to attend for alcohol and psychiatric treatment if required to do so.
The judge ordered that McGuire stay away from Mr Tormey’s and his family’s work places and homes for 15 years. She also said that no one must contact them on McGuire’s behalf.
She took into account a letter of remorse from McGuire, testimonials handed in on his behalf, a favourable probation report, his good employment record and the fact that he has never come to garda attention before.
The probation report concluded that McGuire was suitable to participate in the restorative justice programme but Judge Ryan said she didn’t feel that this was an appropriate case for the programme.
She noted that neither Mr Tormey nor his family were interested in engaging with it as they felt it would be putting the victim under further stress.
Defence counsel Luigi Rea BL said his client is very remorseful and has never been in serious trouble before.
Counsel said McGuire no longer abuses alcohol or drugs and had been attending a computer training programme in Ballyfermot.