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Thursday 8 December 2016

Vicious attacker gets 12 years for couple's Valentine's beating

Tom Shiel

Published 17/01/2012 | 05:00

Sean Lavelle outside court after his attacker Michael McMahon was jailed yesterday
Sean Lavelle outside court after his attacker Michael McMahon was jailed yesterday
Jailed: Michael McMahon

A HUSBAND thought he was going to be killed when he and his wife were attacked by two men with nail bars after they returned home from a romantic Valentine's meal.

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Sean and Emer Lavelle said they were left "mentally scarred for life" after being subjected to the vicious paramilitary-style beating -- and they still do not know why they were targeted.

Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court was told yesterday how the couple, from Dooagh, Achill, Co Mayo, had their arms and legs bound with duct tape by two men in balaclavas and wearing dark blue boiler suits.

Their mobile phones were taken and Mrs Lavelle had duct tape shoved in her mouth.

One of the attackers accused Mr Lavelle of "messing around with women in Castlebar" and told him to get out of Achill by the weekend. He then struck him the shins with a nail bar.

Michael McMahon, of Ashlawn, The Loakers, Blackrock, Dundalk, was jailed for 12 years yesterday after pleading guilty to assault and false imprisonment at Tower Road, Dooagh, on February 14, 2010.

Neighbour Tom Vesey had raised the alarm after he spotted a vehicle being driven in a suspicious manner.

The accused and his brother -- who has since died -- were later stopped in a car with false number plates and arrested by gardai on suspicion of aggravated burglary.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Lavelle said he thought he was going to die when his attackers ordered him into a separate bedroom. As one of the men beat him, he was told: "I will teach you a lesson ... leave this island and never come back."

Mr Lavelle said that afterwards he could feel the blood flowing from his wounds but managed to release his hands from the duct tape.

He said: "The experience will live forever in my mind ... I find it impossible to relax. I don't feel safe living on Achill any longer. I can't sleep. I feel if I take sleeping tablets I will be murdered in my sleep."

In her victim impact statement, Mrs Lavelle spoke of memory loss and anxiety since the attack.

Hugh Hartnett, defending, said it had been a case of mistaken identity. He said his client had been the lesser person involved in the attack that his brother had also been involved in. Mr Hartnett said the accused was willing to pay €20,000 as compensation to his victims.

This offer was rejected by the Mr and Mrs Lavelle.

Mr Hartnett indicated the money could be paid to a local charity instead.

The court heard that McMahon has previous convictions for false imprisonment in Sweden and served a number of prison sentences there.

At the end of these prison terms he was ordered to leave the country.

Sentencing McMahon to 12 years for false imprisonment, with the final three years suspended, Judge Anthony Hunt also imposed a four-year term for assault. The sentences will run concurrently.

Irish Independent

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