Relatives of victim who died of fright hit out at sentences
The family of a bachelor who died of fright after he discovered a Traveller gang ransacking his home, has hit out at the three-and-a-half-year sentences imposed on two members of the gang.
Michael Casey (33), of Bay 9, Clonlong, Southill, Limerick, and his cousin, David Casey (21), with an address at Carragh Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, both pleaded guilty to carrying out three counts of burglary and one count of criminal damage, in the Doon/Cappamore area on August 27, 2015.
At the time David Casey was on bail twice, for burglary and for robbery.
"The court is deeply conscious of your loss," Judge Tom O'Donnell said to John O'Donoghue's heartbroken family during the sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court.
Afterwards, Mr O'Donoghue's family called on the State to consider appealing the sentences, on grounds the terms were too lenient.
"The sentence was lenient given the circumstances, and I'm disappointed the sentences were concurrent rather than consecutive, given the premeditation," a family spokesperson said. "I would hope [the Director of Public Prosecutions] would consider (an appeal)."
In a victim impact statement, Mr O'Donoghue's niece, Angela Denning, said: "Words can't describe the impact of this break-in on our family.
"On August 27, 2015...in the space of a couple of minutes - all of our lives changed forever.
"We lost a kind, clever, talented, and very witty man. We miss him terribly. A very happy home is now missing something that, unlike possessions, can never be replaced."
Judge O'Donnell described the offences before the court as "premeditated crimes", adding the two men "deliberately targeted rural properties unlikely to have alarms". However, he noted "no one could have foreseen" Mr O'Donoghue's death.
State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, who carried out the post mortem, concluded that, despite her finding he had significant coronary heart disease, his death "cannot be separated" from the burglary.
Both defendants ran from the house after Mr O'Donoghue collapsed, despite pleas from Mr O'Donoghue's sister Christina, asking them to help.
"I called on them to help but no one came. By then, I didn't care they were in the house...I just wanted somebody to help my John," she said to gardaí.
The criminal cousins were apprehended a short distance from the house by local gardaí.
Judge O'Donnell said the State acknowledged the men's admissions of guilt were "pivotal" to the prosecution's case.