Monday 26 September 2016

Three teens facing jail for aggravated burglary

Declan Brennan

Published 02/07/2015 | 17:54

Judge's gavel.
Judge's gavel.

Three teenagers are facing jail for their part in an aggravated burglary during which one of them threatened to rape a woman and cut off her son's fingers.

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The accused were aged 16 and 17 on November 11, 2014 when they and two others broke down the door of the woman's Dublin home and overpowered her before demanding money .

During the early morning raid one raider took his penis out and said he would rape her. Her ten-year-old son was present at this point. The raiders also threatened to cut her and her son's fingers off with a meat cleaver.

The victim said she was absolutely terrified during the 25 minute ordeal which only ended when she showed them where she had hidden €30,000 in cash takings from a restaurant.

She said after the burglary she was constantly thinking about it and was scared they would come back.

Liam Fox (18) of Rossfield Park, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to aggravated burglary and car theft. His only other convictions are for minor road traffic offences.

Two others, who cannot be identified as they are still juveniles, pleaded to the same offences. They have no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan rejected an application by defense lawyers who argued that identifying Mr Fox would place him in danger in his community or could identify the juveniles.

He said: “I don’t think they will be identified to a greater degree by the publication of Mr Fox's name. I cannot tell reporters what to do.”

“He's 18 and he's not a child. It [the law] is pretty specific. To stop reporting, the defendant at the time of the hearing must be a child.”

The judge said that he would sentence the three on Monday and warned them that they should expect to be jailed.

The court heard that none of the three defendants had made the rape threat or had any involvement in the sexual activity.

Judge Nolan said the rape threat was part of their joint enterprise but that the sexual exposure was outside of this and none of the accused could have known that would happen.

Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, defending Fox, said that there was no suggestion Fox carried out the “vile sexual acts” and said he was deeply remorseful and regrets what he did.

The victim told gardaí that the raiders took turns in screaming at her asking where the money was. She had around €30,000 cash in the house as takings from a local restaurant and one of the raiders knew about this.

The raiders tried to tie her hands with cable ties but she kept struggling and they gave up. They grabbed her and put a meat cleaver to her collar bone.

One raider threatened her with a steak knife. They kept asking her where the money was.

She told gardaí: “They said they would be killed if they didn’t get the money and they would have to kill her”.

One raider put her hand flat on a counter top and threatened to cut her finger off and to cut her son's finger off. They also threatened to take her son away.

At one point the woman grabbed her son and tried to run out of the house. The 16-year-old grabbed her and dragged her back and hit her. He admitted threatening to cut her finger off.

One raider took his penis out and gestured towards her and told her: “Give me the money or I'll rape you”. She told gardaí that he pinched her genital area and she was absolutely terrified that he was going to rape her.

The victim said she could see the terror in her son's face and she decided to tell them where the takings were. The raiders then pushed the two victims into the bathroom and left in the woman's BMW. The ordeal lasted around 25 minutes.

Garda Ciaran Kilcoyne told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting, that one of the raiders was arrested while trying to burn clothes in the backyard of his home. The fire was picked up by the heat sensors of a garda helicopter, which had been deployed soon after the burglary ended.

After his arrest one of the 16-year-olds told gardaí that it was his idea and he had watched the woman over the summer and knew her movements and knew her son would be at home.

He told gardaí “we had nothing else to do” and he told the others “they could be a millionaire tomorrow”. He said they hid near her house at around 7.30am and waited for her to come back from dropping her daughter off.

He said that they “bally'ed up” (put on balaclavas) before going to the house and kicking the door in. Asked if he was on drugs at the time he replied: “No, I go grafting with a simple head”.

He told gardai they split the stolen money between them and said he “blew most of it” at a local off licence.

Mr O Lideadha, defending Fox, said that Fox's family had been under threat because of his client's substantial drug debt at the time. He asked the judge to take into consideration his client's young age, his lack of serious convictions and his admissions.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending one of the juveniles, said his client wished to extend his apologies to the victim. He said the youth is now “committed to improving himself”. He asked the judge to have regard to his client's young age and that detention should be a last resort under the Children Act.

Judge Nolan said that it seemed all of them were making efforts to reform themselves based on reports handed into court.

But he added that “I do not think there is any guarantee of reform in relation to these men. The crime is so serious that a custodial sentence must be imposed. What they did was unforgivable”

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