Convicted killer given 10 years for knife attack
A convicted murderer who tied a man up and threatened to "cut his nuts off" after robbing him at knifepoint yesterday received a 10-year sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Michael Downes (43) was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Finbar Dennehy (50) who was found bound on a sofa with a black bag over his head in his Clontarf apartment in September 2007.
It was initially believed he had been strangled with rope, but a post-mortem examination revealed the stab wound was the cause of death.
Mr Dennehy was single and lived alone at the apartment. He had recently retired from an executive position at Cadburys.
This time, Downes bound his victim with tape and robbed him of €230 in cash, an ATM card and two mobile phones after meeting him through a gay chatroom.
Downes, formerly of Marian Avenue, Ennis, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to the robbery and false imprisonment in Grangegorman on August 10, 2007.
Detective Garda Damien McCormick told prosecutor Martina Baxter that the victim came into contact with Downes after replying to a message he had left on a gay chat line.
The victim told gardai that he invited Downes into his apartment under the assumption that they would have sex.
He said Downes arrived at his apartment unshaven and carrying a black sports bag, and that after he had taken a seat on a couch, he told the victim to get undressed.
The victim said he complied with Downes's request, before turning his back to close the living room blinds. Downes then pulled his victim close, produced a two-pronged kitchen knife and forced his victim to lie face down on the couch, telling him: "Don't fight me, if you fight me I'll f**king kill you."
Downes then proceeded to take his wallet and ATM card, while he lay prone on the couch.
Demanding the PIN code for the ATM card, Downes threatened to return to the apartment and cut the man "to bits", "cut his nuts off" and cut the man's little finger off if the PIN code proved to be false.
When the victim was satisfied that Downes had left the apartment block, he raised the alarm.
Det Garda McCormick told the court that Downes, who has 21 previous convictions including six for blackmail, five for theft and one each for sexual assault and murder, had left his victim "extremely shaken".
Paul Greene, defending, told the court that Downes was aware that he had hurt his victim, his victim's family and his own family and that he "deeply regretted" having done so.
Mr Greene said that Downes had come from a small town in the west of Ireland, where his sexual orientation was not common, and that he was troubled by this as well as a difficult family background.
Judge Patrick McCartan imposed a 10-year sentence and said that Downes's personal difficulties, or sense of grievance, could not explain his committal of the robbery.