Friday 15 December 2017

DPP to appeal the 'undue leniency' of sentences on men who burgled home of bachelor who died of heart attack

Gardaí at the scene in Doon where John O’Donoghue collapsed and died after being confronted by intruders at his home
Gardaí at the scene in Doon where John O’Donoghue collapsed and died after being confronted by intruders at his home

David Raleigh

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is to appeal under grounds of ‘undue leniency’, sentences imposed on two Traveller cousins for breaking into the home of a bachelor who died of a heart attack after he interrupted them.

David and Michael Casey were each jailed for three and a half years, but having served time in custody prior to their sentencing last month, along with remission, the men are likely to serve about 16 months.

Carpenter, John O'Donoghue (62), and his sister Christina, returned to the house after a shopping trip to find their family home being burgled, on August 27, 2015.

As he went to investigate Mr O'Donoghue collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Christina O'Donoghue shouted for the intruders to help - but nobody came to their aid, Limerick circuit court heard previously. The men told gardai they did not hear Ms O'Donoghue's calls for help.

Michael Casey (33), from Bay 9, Clonlong, Southill, Limerick, and David Casey (21), with an address at Carragh Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, both pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and one count of criminal damage, in the Doon/Cappamore area on the same afternoon.

The two men had over 60 previous convictions between them, and David Casey was on bail for two robberies at the time, their sentencing hearing heard.

Shell-shocked at her bother’s sudden death, Christina O’Donoghue told gardai: "I called on the 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 court heard the two cousins were part of a gang that roamed the country targeting isolated rural communities. A third man, not before the court, who drove the mens getaway car remains at large.

"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," Sergeant Mike Reidy, Bruff, told the sentencing court. "His sister tried her best to resuscitate him."

He said David and Michael Casey "ransacked the house" and fled the scene through fields at the rear of the cottage.

Local gardai Bill Collins and Elaine O’Donovan apprehended the defendants walking on a road about 2km from the house.

A post mortem was carried out by State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, which noted that, although Mr O’Donoghue had "an enlarged heart and significant coronary disease", she found that his 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. A very happy home is now missing something that, unlike stolen possessions, can never be replaced."

Mr O'Donoghue's family hit out at last month's sentencing. A family spokesperson said at the time that they were "disappointed", and that the sentences, in their view, "was lenient given the circumstances".

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