Tuesday 21 August 2018

18-month jail term for petrol bomb attack

A Gorey businessman has said how his wife and daughter were petrified following an incident where his business premises was the subject of a petrol bomb attack.

Lorcan Byrne of Lorcan Byrne Interiors, said in a victim impact statement read out in court that his family lived in fear that their house would be the subject of an attack similar to what took place at his business premises.

The statement was read out during the sentencing hearing of Ivan O’Connor, of Arklow Road, Gorey, who was found guilty at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court of damaging Mr Byrne’s shop window.

O’Connor was sentenced to three years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended. During the course of the trial before Judge Cormac Quinn at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, two other charges relating to making unwarranted demands with menace for sums totalling €7000 were withdrawn following legal argument.

O’Connor had pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard from Detective Garda Alan O’Shea, who said O’Connor had thrown a rock and a glass bottle filled with fire at the shop window. Det Garda O’Shea said that while the first pane of glass was damaged, neither the rock or the bottle penetrated the second pane of glass.

He said that the defendant had previous convictions, including criminal damage to a window of the Coach House in Gorey.

Defence Counsel, John Peart, S.C. instructed by Emmet O’Gorman, solicitor, said the defendant had been ‘playing fast and loose’ with the court and the public.

However, Mr Peart told the court the defendant now accepts the jury’s verdict and wished to apologise to Mr Byrne.

The defendant, said Mr. Peart, had been in denial of what he had done but now he very much regrets his actions. He now sees that he was trying to be a professional criminal for which he failed hopelessly.

Mr Peart said that O’Connor has been in custody for the last two weeks, which has had a serious impact on him.

‘I would say to the court what has happened has had a salutary effect on him. He now realises he could be in for a lengthy prison sentence having served two weeks,’ added Mr. Peart.

The defendant, said Mr. Peart, has told him that he would never go near Mr. Byrne again, while he recognises the shame he has brought on his family.

Judge Quinn said the aggravating factor was the use of a spirits bottle as a petrol bomb, which is a serious matter but which only caused smoke damage. The mitigating factor is that the defendant has a partner and child.

He said the headline sentence for such an offence is four and half years. However, he would sentence the defendant to three years in prison, but would give the defendant some encouragement towards rehabilitation, and would suspend the final 18 months. He said he would back date the sentence to April 11 last, the date he was taken into custody.

Gorey Guardian