I've got a shotgun and guard dog in case intruders strike my home again
THE businessman cleared of assaulting a burglar with a Mercedes car after a break-in at his house has bought a gun for protection.
Martin McCaughey (48) told the Irish Independent yesterday that he has stepped up security significantly at his house since the robbery in June 2008.
The property developer now keeps a legally held shotgun in his house and has bought a German Shepherd guard dog to ensure that his family and property are protected.
Mr McCaughey has also welcomed new laws, which came into effect last month, allowing property owners to use reasonable force against intruders into their homes.
On Wednesday, a jury found him not guilty of assault causing harm to burglar Daniel McCormack (27) at Clann Chullainn Park, Farndreg, Dundalk, on June 27, 2008.
After waking to find the burglar in his house wielding a screwdriver, the businessman chased him out of the house, before following him in his wife's car and hitting him twice.
He told Dundalk Circuit Court he had intended to catch and hold McCormack until gardai arrived and that he did not intend to do any harm.
McCormack received a suspended sentence for the burglary. However, it also emerged in court that he had received an award of €175,000 from Mr McCaughey's insurance company for his injuries, which included two broken legs.
Yesterday, Mr McCaughey said that it was always in the back of his mind that a burglar might strike again, but he has taken precautions.
"It's going to be very difficult for somebody to get in here now, they'll have to get past that dog," he said.
"They can't get upstairs, now they're going to have to break down internal doors. I have a gun in my bedroom, it's legally held, with a licence," he told this newspaper.
Mr McCaughey said that he was confident that unless a burglar who didn't know the area hit the wrong premises, his house was now safe.
He commended the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act, which allows people to use reasonable force to defend their property.
However, he said that it would be pointless if innocent people like him were dragged through the courts regardless.
Mr McCaughey said he was shocked when he was informed by gardai that he was going to be charged and that going through the courts had caused stress to him and his family.
"I'd never been at a criminal trial in my life before and I'd never been in court before," he said.
The worst part was the two hours when the jury deliberated its decision and his legal team was getting worried, he said.
However, Mr McCaughey was quick to commend the gardai and said that he did not blame them in any way for what happened.
He described waking up to see a man with a screwdriver in his bedroom.
"We were in our room, the wife heard somebody, she thought that one of the kids was in the ensuite bathroom.
"The next thing, he came out and stood at the side of the bed with a screwdriver in his hand.
"I shouted at him, then I got up and ran after him, he ran down the stairs and I ran after him.
"My biggest worry was I didn't know if it was only him or who else was in the house with him. I didn't know how he got into the house, it was alarmed."
Mr McCaughey said that two years before the incident a motorbike was stolen from the garage but other than that his house had not been broken into.
It was not until four weeks before the trial that Mr McCaughey learnt that his insurance company had paid out to the burglar.
"I'm not very pleased about that.
"It's disgraceful, they were totally familiar with the circumstances," he said.
However, he said that he was not considering any further legal action because he wanted to get on with his life.