Thursday 27 October 2016

Revealed: How we paid €35,000 to defend home invasion terror thugs

Published 02/10/2015 | 11:54

Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 17, was given a sentence of 20 years, with four suspended. He had 120 previous convictions
Patrick Gately (28) of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 20 years, with four suspended. He had 85 previous convictions
John Joyce (21) of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin, was sentenced to 15 years, with four of those suspended. He had 55 previous convictions
Patrick Joyce (23) of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9, was given 14 years, with four suspended. He had 16 previous convictions, none for violent offences
Thomas Flynn (21) of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with three suspended. He had 20 previous convictions
Donal O'Hara (22) of Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended. He had 19 previous convictions
Michael McDonagh (23) of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17, the only defendant with no previous convictions, sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended

THE taxpayer forked out at least €35,000 to defend seven men who staged a violent burglary of a family home.

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Seven men were yesterday sentenced for their part in the home invasion of Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three young daughters.

Each of the seven men had a Senior counsel, a Junior counsel and a solicitor – all paid for by the taxpayer through the free legal aid system.

While the men pleaded guilty, their legal team would have argued mitigating factors in an attempt to reduce their sentence.

A legal source told that their legal bill would have come to at least €33,607.

Each defendent had a senior counsel, a junior counsel and a solicitor representing them.

Briefing rates and daily for legal counsel and solicitors are available in the Department of Justice Procedures Governing Payment of Criminal Legal Aid, which was published in March 2015.

According to the rates published, for an appearance in a circuit court, a senior counsel will receive a 'briefing rate' of €1,714 which will apply to the first day in court. A junior counsel will receive €1,144 and a solicitor will receive €1,144.

In subsequent court appearances, the daily rate for senior counsel will drop to €370, junior counsel will receive €247 and a solicitor gets €180.

On Tuesday, the seven raiders pleaded guilty and mitigating circumstances were put to the court by their respective legal teams.

On Thursday they were sentenced. This would have counted as two days for legal counsel.

Judge Thomas Teehan said the crime inflicted on Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three young daughters almost two years ago had "shocked an entire nation" and was an affront to law-abiding citizens.

The seven men, in their 20s and from north Dublin, received between five and 16 years each at Clonmel Circuit Court .

The callous criminals smiled and blew kisses as they left court yesterday.

The judge said the case had multiple aggravating factors, the most significant of which was the effect it had on the Corcoran family, whose home, at Burnchurch, near Killenaule in south Tipperary, was broken into by the gang early on November 21, 2013.

The raiders were armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a handgun and a machete and all of them were wearing balaclavas.

"The five were awoken from sleep in the family home in the most violent manner by what must have seemed like an army of sinister-looking intruders," the judge said.

The court heard on Tuesday that Mark Corcoran suffered a fractured eye socket when he was struck on the face with a gun, that his wife was forcibly removed from her bedroom - the two older daughters witnessed the event from the family's hallway - and the youngest daughter, who was two at the time, was found rocking herself and her teddy in her cot.

Threats were made to the couple that the gang would kill the children and they were left in fear for their family's lives.

"No human being of any age should ever have to witness such an egregiously violent scene and most especially in their own home," the judge said.

"All three children have been emotionally scarred by this ordeal. The effects on the youngest are particularly harrowing, even though she did not witness directly - as did her sisters - the full horror of what happened to their parents."

He described the raid as "highly-planned", while the nature of the weapons involved had "sinister connotations" in such circumstances.

"The level of gratuitous violence visited on the two adults, neither of whom was in any way a physical threat to the raiders, was quite terrifying.

"In the light of this, the unfortunate occupants had every reason to take very seriously indeed the horrifying threats which were shouted."

The Corcorans had to close their successful gym-equipment business because of the incident and also suffered other major financial losses because of securing their home and through medical expenses.

"Taking all of these effects together, it is clear that the Corcoran family, and each individual member, have suffered catastrophic changes to their lives," the judge commented.

He said that other people who might be contemplating similar crimes in future should know there can be "a very heavy price to pay" for such crimes, adding: "This is a message which must go out in the clearest and most unequivocal terms."

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