THREE men who left an elderly German couple living in fear after attacking them with a stun gun, a hurley and knives were jailed for 34 years between them yesterday.
The gang bound and gagged Heinz Sperath (66) and his wife, Mary Sperath (72), at their rural home in Clondra, Co Longford, on December 12 last. They then cut and beat them and used the stun gun on them.
The elderly couple were left in such fear that they now lock themselves inside their bedrooms at night.
All three defendants were convicted at Longford Circuit Court of trespass and aggravated burglary.
In a moving victim-impact statement, Mr Sperath described how he and his wife now live in fear. He said they had retired to Ireland for "peace and tranquility".
Anthony Flannery (24) of Lourdes Road, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to trespassing at the Sperath home. He was also charged with stealing cash and of having a Taser stun gun. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Kristian Wren (32) of Ballyfermot Drive, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, assaulting Mr Sperath causing him harm, assaulting Mrs Sperath causing her harm and carrying an imitation firearm. He was sentenced to 12 years.
His brother, James Wren (37), of the same address, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and using a stun gun on the same date. He was jailed for 12 years.
The court heard that the three balaclava-clad defendants had entered the home of the elderly couple with an imitation firearm, Taser stun gun, hurley and knives.
Mr Sperath saw the men from his bedroom window and shouted at them to "go away". He then dialled 999.
His next-door neighbour became suspicious of the three men, who had called to his house only minutes before, insisting that they were looking for a party. He rang the gardai in Longford.
The court heard the Speraths were cut, beaten, threatened with death, gagged and had the Taser gun used on them.
Gardai arrived shortly after the attack in an unmarked patrol car. Anthony Flannery, believing it to be a pick-up car, attempted to jump into the back seat. He was subsequently arrested.
The other two ran into the fields behind the house and when gardai caught up with them, they said they were looking for horses.
The Speraths were found bound and gagged with plastic and duct tape and locked in their bathroom. Mary Sperath suffered bruising to her legs, arms and back.
She was admitted to hospital and had acute stress as a result of the assault. Mr Sperath had a cut on his index finger and bruising to his body.
In his victim-impact statement Heinz Sperath said that he and his wife had difficulty sleeping since the attack.
"We are afraid in our own home. Every room is locked, we even lock ourselves into our bedrooms. We are afraid to go to sleep in case we are attacked.
"We came to Ireland for peace and tranquility. This has been totally destroyed.
"We are now considering selling our lovely home as we have no peace of mind.
"Mary's asthma has worsened and so has her depression. We were attacked in such a vile way with those brutes coming at us and the vile stink of them as they cut us.
"We were defenceless. We are no longer living but merely existing."
Judge Anthony Kennedy said the burglary was "as lawless and vicious" as he had seen in over 40 years of dealing with criminal behaviour.
Judge Kennedy suspended the last two years of each of the men's sentences on grounds of good behaviour.