Three men jailed after 'barbaric' attacks on victims in their rural homes
Three men have been sentenced to combined jail terms of nearly 50 years for "barbaric" break-ins at two rural homes in Co Limerick.
Patrick Roche (53), from Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin, in Dublin, along with his son Philip Roche (24), were jailed for 17 years and 15 years respectively. Patrick Roche's son-in-law Alan Freeman (37), from Pearse Park, Tipperary town, was jailed for 14 years.
The final three years of each sentence was suspended, reducing the total combined sentences from 46 years to 37 years.
Free legal aid was granted to the three defendants should they wish to appeal the length of the sentences.
In May 2012, Patrick and Philip Roche broke into the isolated rural home of pensioner siblings Willie, Nora and Chrissie Creed, at Ballyluddy, Pallasgreen.
They tied up Mr Creed and his sisters, aged in their 70s, before assaulting them, and leaving them covered in blood. Mr Creed was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver during the horrific incident.
The father and son fled with €5,000 cash, which they had found hidden in a sock.
Passing sentence, Judge John Hannan described the burglary at the Creed's home as "a heinous, barbaric, and very violent attack on very vulnerable people".
"It was a sickening episode and it indicated a complete lack of empathy for older people."
Six weeks prior to the burglary at the Creed farmhouse, Patrick and Philip Roche, along with Alan Freeman, broke into the home of Gerry and Anne Garvey, of Sunville House, Pallasgreen.
They tied up Mr and Mrs Garvey, and their four children, and assaulted them.
The gang also threatened Mr Garvey at gunpoint, before they fled the house with cash. Gardaí later recovered some of the stolen money.
The three defendants, who had denied charges of aggravated burglary and false imprisonment, were found guilty of the charges by a jury at Limerick Circuit Court.
Judge Hannan said the defendants had acted "menacingly" and with "brutality", having planned the burglaries, worn dark clothing and balaclavas, and armed themselves with weapons.
He said these type of aggravated burglaries cause "great harm" to victims and to the communities in which they occur.
"It tears up the fabric of rural community life and causes suspicion and fear which spreads like a virus," he added.
The judge also said the burglaries had "shattered the tranquillity" of the lives of both families.
"To say it was terrifying for them would be one of the greatest understatements of all time."
Handing down the sentences, Judge Hannan noted "a lack of mitigating factors", adding, "they are few and far between".
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