Sunday 23 November 2014

Two robbers who forced pensioner to flee home walk free from court

Gordon Deegan

Published 04/03/2014 | 02:30

Michael McMahon of Creeagh, Co. Clare, in summer 2008, with two of his 1950's women's bicycles, both punctured, on his way on foot from his home to Kilrush, Co. Clare, to have them repaired in Kilrush.
Pic: Kevin Clancy/Press 22
Michael McMahon
Pensioner Michael McMahon, left, and, clockwise from centre, Joseph Lernihan, Shane Donnellan and Noel Garry

TWO men walked free from court after the robbery of a 68-year-old man who abandoned his home after being terrorised in it.

But a third man before Ennis Circuit Court for robbing Michael McMahon at Cree was jailed for five years.

Mr McMahon cycled 30 miles through the night to check himself into a nursing home following his ordeal, and he remains in nursing care today.

Judge Carroll Moran gave suspended jail terms to Joseph Lernihan (21), of Finnanon Park, Mullagh, for robbing Mr McMahon at Drumellihy West, Cree, on February 21 and 25, 2012.

He also gave a suspended sentence to Shane Donnellan (20), of Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush for the robbery of Mr McMahon on February 25, 2012.

Judge Moran imposed a three-year jail term on Noel Garry (20), of Tullycrine, Childish and also imposed a consecutive three-year term concern- ing a separate robbery that happened seven months after the robbery of Mr McMahon, while Garry was on bail.

The court was told that all three offenders have sent letters of apology to Mr McMahon.

The judge said that Garry was the most culpable in relation to the robbery.

Judge Moran said that the second three-year term imposed on Garry was consecutive, as he was on bail at the time of the offence. The judge suspended the final year of the total six-year sentence.

Garry has previous convictions for burglary and robbery, and his probation report found that the level of victim empathy was superficial "and he has no insight into the consequences of his offending".

But a detective said that the prime mover in the crime was not before the courts – as there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him because he did not make admissions to gardai.

FEAR

Mr McMahon remains in nursing home care today after fleeing his home following two nights of being put in "absolute fear" by robbers almost two years ago.

The court heard Mr McMahon attended the bank two or three times a year and would withdraw roughly €3,000 and he would live on that for three to five months.

Detective Garda Donal Corkery previously told the court that Mr McMahon was living alone in the rural, remote location two miles from the village of Cooraclare.

In evidence, Det Corkery said that at 10pm on February 21, three windows of Mr McMahon's home were broken and Mr McMahon could see three people outside wearing hoodies.

Det Corkery said that the three initially demanded €500, but ultimately Mr McMahon was forced to hand over three carrot jars containing roughly €4,000 in cash.

Det Corkery said that one of the robbers told Mr McMahon: "No gardai. We won't be back. We won't get mad."

Det Corkery said that Mr McMahon "felt weak and was fearful from the whole ordeal, but at the time did not make any complaint to the gardai".

Det Corkery said that the following day, Mr McMahon went to the AIB in Kilrush to withdraw €3,000 from his bank account, and replaced the windows by placing blocks and turf in the gaps made. Four nights later, on February 25, Mr McMahon saw that blocks were being removed from one of his broken windows and something resembling a gun being pointed into the house.

It later transpired this was an iron railing, but under duress Mr McMahon retrieved the remainder of the money – around €3,000 – and gave it to the robbers.

They demanded Mr McMahon's bank books, and told him to go to the bank the following Monday to withdraw €50,000, and that they would be back for that.

Det Corkery said: "Mr McMahon told the persons there that he wouldn't be able to remain at his home because of their action, and later at 1am that night, he gathered up his belongings and cycled from his address to St Joseph's nursing home." Mr McMahon also made a complaint to gardai.

Irish Independent

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