Thursday 13 December 2018

'Fatal burglary' case lies behind change to the law

Cousins David (left) and Michael Casey
Cousins David (left) and Michael Casey

The move to set guidelines for sentencing in burglary offences arose from the case of two cousins jailed for a "fatal burglary" whose sentences at the original court case were found to be too lenient by the Court of Appeal.

Cousins Michael Casey (34), with an address at Clonlong Halting Site, Southill, Limerick, and David Casey (23), with an address at Carragh Park, Belcamp, Dublin 17, had pleaded guilty to a series of burglaries, including one at the home of John O'Donoghue at Toomaline, Doon, on August 27, 2015.

Mr O'Donoghue collapsed and died as he was about to confront the two intruders, who ran away without offering assistance.

Judge Tom O'Donnell sentenced both men at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court to four-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final year suspended on December 15, 2016. The sentence was found to be too lenient by the Court of Appeal and the Caseys face an increase on their sentences on Tuesday as part of the court's judgment.

Mr O'Donoghue lived with his sister Christine and they had both gone to Tipperary town to do some shopping on the day in question. Their home was unoccupied when it was broken into.

When the O'Donoghues arrived home around 2pm, they noticed a black car parked at the gateway of an old farmhouse across the road. They then noticed that the front door of their own house had been broken and they rightly suspected that there were intruders inside.

The driver of the parked car began beeping his horn. Mr O'Donoghue got a shovel from a shed and stood near the door of his house in case he had to confront the intruders. At that point, he collapsed and died.

Lawyers for the DPP told the Court of Appeal that the Casey cousins "set out on what can only be described as a premeditated spree of residential burglaries" on the day in question.

According to Garda evidence, the vehicle in which they travelled for this purpose had been purchased a short time earlier on and had been registered in a false name.

The home of a Mrs O'Keefe at St Jude's, Kyle, Cappamore, was "ransacked" after the door was forced open. A sum of €500 and jewellery worth €1,000 were taken. The house was unoccupied at the time.

An alarm went off at the home of a Ms Egerton at Portnard, Cappamore, and a neighbour saw a man coming out the window. No property was apparently taken but the Caseys were charged with burglary of the home, which was unoccupied at the time.

The Caseys also pleaded guilty to criminal damage to the home of Roger Danaher, of Dromsallagh, Cappamore, Co Limerick. The damage was caused by efforts to gain entry to the house.

Sunday Independent

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