independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Man jailed for assaulting Michaela McAreavery's bridesmaid a month after her murder

MICHAELA McAreavery's bridesmaid was assaulted by a handbag thief one month after Mrs McAreavery's murder, a court has heard.









Garda Joanna Cullen was off duty when Christopher Connors (23) approached her car and attempted to steal her handbag. Connors hit Gda Cullen several times before his accomplice drove over her arm and broke her wrist.



On a previous date Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Gda Cullen found the incident particularly difficult to deal with because of the recent death of her friend.



Mrs McAreavery was murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius on January 10, 2011.



Today Connors was sentenced to four years with one year suspended after a judge said he does not have any hope for his rehabilitation.



Judge Desmond Hogan noted that Connors blamed the victim for the incident saying she shouldn't have left her car unlocked.



Connors of Cookstown Cottages in Tallaght has 163 previous convictions including one for aggravated burglary.



He pleaded guilty to assaulting Gda Cullen and the theft of her handbag on February 2, 2011 at Cornells Court Shopping Centre in Dublin.



Garda Edward Magee told prosecuting counsel Noel Devitt BL that Gda Cullen interrupted Connors as he was stealing her handbag from the car.



She struggled with Connors who hit her several times.



During the struggle Gda Cullen's hand went under the wheel of a car being driven by Connor's co-accused.



Judge Hogan said Connors' probation report “leaves me with nothing but despair.”



He said he requested a probation report because of Connors large number of convictions and his young age.



“I had hoped that I would be able to gleam some remediating matters that I could perhaps include for the structure of the sentence but I don't see any,” he said.



“He placed much of the responsibility of the offences on the victim, saying that the victim did not lock the car door which he claims led him to commit the crime.”



"He also said the victim had assaulted him. What a warped understanding is that?"



The judge continued: "He goes and steals a person's bag and says it is the person's fault and then says the person assaults him when she tries to retrieve her bag?”



Defence counsel Michael Bowman, BL, said Connors understands he needs help. He said he went through traumatic incidents when he was younger including the loss of his older brother.



“He lost the will to live after this,” said Mr Bowman.



“When he recalls things he takes his perspective and not the victims.”



"He understands he did wrong but this did not come across in the probation report,” said Mr Bowman.



Judge Hogan noted that although Connors was acting in concert with others and the car which drove over the hand of Gda Cullen was driven by someone else, he “does not see any light at the end of the tunnel” for Connors.





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