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Burglar who tied up and stabbed victim avoids jail

A MAN who assaulted and tied up two French students in their bedrooms during a violent burglary has been given a suspended sentence, after a judge praised him for "turning his life around".

During the break-in at the house in April 2011, the two terrified victims woke up to find two men armed with knives in their home.

Stuart Whelan (28), of Keeper Road, Drimnagh, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning a man and woman at Herberton Road, Rialto, on April 4, 2011.


Whelan also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Brian Fearon and possession of a knife in an earlier attack at Cork Street on November 25, 2009. During this assault, Whelan stabbed the victim in the leg, causing life-threatening injuries.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring sentenced Whelan to five years in prison but suspended it in full for three years. She said Whelan had been a threat to the community from 2009 to 2011 and had committed very serious offences, but had since reformed. "I don't believe in miracles but I do believe in hard work, and you've worked hard," she said.

The court heard Whelan is a "completely different person" since he took part in the Betel Drug Rehabilitation programme. He volunteers in various charities, works part-time and has trained in addiction studies. The court heard Laura Boucila, a foreign student at Griffith College, woke up to find a man in her bedroom.

This man put his hand over her mouth and demanded money and her laptop before holding a 30cm long knife to her neck. Another man, also armed with a knife, came into the bedroom and asked for money.

The raiders then went into the bedroom of the woman's housemate, Paul Barraud, and demanded his car keys.

When Mr Barraud said he didn't own a car the men kicked him in the face and stabbed his arm before stealing a laptop, a camera and two mobile phones. The burglars then used computer cables to tie up the two students.

The woman told gardaĆ­ later that she had feared for her life.

Whelan, a father-of-one, has 90 previous convictions.


The court heard that shortly after the earlier stabbing in November 2009, both Whelan and his co-accused, Harry McDonagh (24), were caught in the victim's stolen car.

Judge Ring accepted that the victim, Brian Fearon, had instigated the assault by holding a knife up to the two men while they were sitting in a cafe with a baby.

Whelan took a knife from the cafe's kitchen and gave chase.

The victim fell outside the Coombe Hospital and was held down by McDonagh while Whelan stabbed him in the leg.

An artery in Mr Fearon's leg was severed and he went into cardiac arrest and had an operation but has since recovered.

McDonagh was earlier sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail with the final two years suspended for the 2009 attack.