Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dublin criminals who left young family terrified during home invasion have sentences cut

OFF THE STREETS: Thug Thomas Flynn, one of the raiders who were given hefty sentences at Clonmel Circuit Court
OFF THE STREETS: Thug Thomas Flynn, one of the raiders who were given hefty sentences at Clonmel Circuit Court

Ruaidhrí Giblin

TWO men who received 20 year prison sentences for an aggravated burglary in Tipperary have had their sentences reduced to 18 on appeal.

Dublin residents Patrick Gately (29), with an address at Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dean Byrne (23), of Cabra Park, Dublin 17, John Joyce (22), Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Patrick Joyce (24), of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods and Thomas Flynn (22), of Moatview Avenue, Coolock were among seven men who pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at the home of the Corcoran family in south Tipperary on November 21, 2013.

Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 17, was given a sentence of 20 years, with four suspended. He had 120 previous convictions
Dean Byrne (22) of Cabra Park, Dublin 17, was given a sentence of 20 years, with four suspended. He had 120 previous convictions
Patrick Gately (28) of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 20 years, with four suspended. He had 85 previous convictions
John Joyce (21) of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Dublin, was sentenced to 15 years, with four of those suspended. He had 55 previous convictions
Patrick Joyce (23) of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9, was given 14 years, with four suspended. He had 16 previous convictions, none for violent offences
Thomas Flynn (21) of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with three suspended. He had 20 previous convictions
Donal O'Hara (22) of Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, was sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended. He had 19 previous convictions
Michael McDonagh (23) of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17, the only defendant with no previous convictions, sentenced to 12 years, with seven suspended

Sentences of 20 years imprisonment with the final four suspended were handed down to Gately and Dean Byrne; John Joyce was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with the final four suspended; Patrick Joyce was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with the final four suspended and Thomas Flynn received a 12 year sentence made consecutive to a sentence already being served.

The men were sentenced by Judge Thomas Teehan at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court on October 1, 2015.

Five of the seven men brought appeals against the severity of their sentences in the three-judge Court of Appeal.

The gang broke into the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran armed with a sawn-off shotgun, a handgun and a machete.

Emma and Mark Corcoran: Process of trying to put their terrifying ordeal behind them will take much longer
Emma and Mark Corcoran: Process of trying to put their terrifying ordeal behind them will take much longer

Mrs Corcoran managed to dial 999 and left her mobile phone on for seven minutes.

Gardai could hear what was happening during the raid.

Read More: New breed of burglars: volatile and dangerous

Mrs Corcoran said she told the raiders that her children - aged eight, six and two - were in the house and was told "we'll kill your f***ing kids".

Since the horror, the grandmother of the family has praised Gardaí for their handling of the case.

Cathleen Corcoran called local Gardaí “absolutely brilliant”, and said she could not thank them enough for the support they had offered to her son and his family after the terrifying raid on their home.

“The Garda were absolutely brilliant in helping Mark and Emma through the ordeal they suffered,” she told RTÉ’s Liveline.

“They did so much to help the family afterwards, and they could not have acted quicker in catching those involved.

“I must give them that – within 50 minutes they had five of them that night and the next day they had the other two caught. They were brilliant.”

The Dublin gang had 315 previous convictions between them.

Just one member of the gang had no previous convictions.

Read More: Dublin criminal gang were 'so dangerous' they inspired Love/Hate pipebomb storyline

Mr Corcoran suffered a fractured eye socket after he was struck with the butt of the fire-arm, and later had to have four separate surgeries to reconstruct his face.

Giving judgment today, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the court was in no doubt that the sentencing judge was correct in concluding that the case fell into the most serious category of aggravated burglary and the Court of Appeal was “surprised that submissions to the contrary” were advanced by some of the men's lawyers.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge was correct to deal with all seven accused in three groups.

Michael McDonagh and Donal O'Hara had the greatest claim for leniency. They did not bring appeals against their sentences.

Dean Byrne and Patrick Gately “merited the most severe sentences” and Thomas Flynn along with the two Joyces made up the middle group.

The sentence imposed on Thomas Flynn had to be consecutive to a firearms sentence he was serving and the Court of Appeal saw no basis for interfering with the sentence imposed on him.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentences imposed on the Joyces were “appropriate having regard to the gravity of the offence”. He said the sentencing judge saw fit to differentiate between them. John Joyce was the driver and supplier of the VW Passat and it was his phone that was in intense contact with the phone of Dean Byrne in the Saab. Moreover, John Joyce had the more extensive prior record.

Mr Justice Birmingham said there were a number of factors why Dean Byrne and Patrick Gately should have received the most severe sentences.

First of all they were the occupants of the stolen family jeep when it was involved in “outrageous driving”. They had the most extensive prior records and their guilty pleas were entered only on the date of trial.

The Court of Appeal however, had a concern, about the divergence in the sentences. Gately's and Byrne's net sentences were more than three times the sentence of those who received the lightest terms.

Significant as the reasons were for differentiating, Mr Justice Birmingham siad the court concluded that the divergence was excessive and required intervention.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, reduced both sentences from 20 years to 18 with the final four suspended.

All other appeals were dismissed.

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