Sunday 4 December 2016

Woman pleaded with burglars to help dying brother

David Raleigh

Published 29/10/2016 | 02:30

The sister of a man who suffered a heart attack while their home was being burgled pleaded with the intruders to help but nobody came to her aid, a court heard yesterday.

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Details of the evidence were heard at the sentencing hearing of cousins David and Michael Casey at Limerick Circuit Court.

David Casey outside court
David Casey outside court

Both men pleaded guilty to breaking into John O'Donoghue's home on August 27, 2015.

The 62-year-old bachelor collapsed and died of a heart attack as he watched the two defendants ransacking his cottage in Doon, Co Limerick.

David Casey was on bail for two robberies at the time, the court heard.

Christina O'Donoghue told gardaí: "I called on them to help but no one came to help. By then, I didn't care they were in the house. I just wanted somebody to help my John."

The defendants were part of a three-man gang that went around the country targeting isolated rural communities, John O'Sullivan, prosecuting, told the court.

The two cousins pleaded guilty to a spate of burglaries in the south-east Limerick and Tipperary border regions on the day. The court was told that a third man, not before the court, who drove the gang's getaway car, is still at large.

Michael Casey outside court
Michael Casey outside court

Mr O'Donoghue and his sister Christina had returned home around 2pm from a shopping errand in Tipperary town when they interrupted the gang.

Sergeant Mike Reidy told the court: "They became suspicious someone was in the house. John approached a side door and saw it had been broken.

"John O'Donoghue got a shovel out of his shed, as he was concerned for his safety. He stood near the house. His sister knew by him that he wasn't feeling great. He collapsed down in the yard.

"His sister tried her best to resuscitate him."

The driver of the getaway vehicle sped off, while the two cousins who had been "ransacking the house" fled through fields at the rear of the cottage.

A number of local people alerted gardaí after spotting the pair running along the road.

Gardaí Bill Collins and Elaine O'Donovan, who had arrived on scene and tried in vain to resuscitate Mr O'Donoghue, later apprehended the two men about 2km away on the side of the road.

A post-mortem was carried out by State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, which revealed Mr O'Donoghue had "an enlarged heart and significant coronary disease".

However, the autopsy concluded Mr O'Donoghue's death "cannot be separated from the circumstances that occurred".

In a victim impact statement written on behalf of the O'Donoghue family, Angela Denning, a niece of the deceased, said: "Words cannot describe the impact of this break-in on our family. We lost a kind, clever, talented and very witty man. We miss him terribly."

Adjourning sentencing to December 15, the judge expressed his sympathies to the O'Donoghue family, saying: "I don't wish to prolong matters but I have a duty to consider everything I have heard."

Irish Independent

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