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Man who beat 'loner' and left him disabled gets 11-year jail term


The late Thomas Ryan, who was assaulted by Patrick Phelan

The late Thomas Ryan, who was assaulted by Patrick Phelan

The late Thomas Ryan, who was assaulted by Patrick Phelan

A man has been hit with an 11-year jail sentence after he "savagely" beat a "quiet and gentle" man leaving him permanently disabled, and later attempting to burgle the home of an elderly bachelor.

Patrick Phelan (24) pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious causing harm to Thomas Ryan at Kennedy Park on July 10, 2013.

While on bail for the "vicious" assault on Thomas Ryan, Phelan broke into a 64-year-old bachelor's home and threatened him and demanding cash.


The court heard the occupant of the house lived alone and had breathing difficulties and that Phelan pushed him on to his bed and knelt on his chest, demanding money.

Phelan fled after the man managed to push a panic alarm.

Phelan was sentenced to eight years for the attack on Mr Ryan and received a consecutive three-year sentence for the attempted burglary.

The court suspended the consecutive three-year sentence for a period of three years, from the date of Phelan's release.

Judge Tom O'Donnell described the attack on Thomas Ryan (61) as "a savage and vicious unprovoked assault on an innocent man, which led to catastrophic injuries".

Phelan admitted kicking Mr Ryan about the head several times after he met him walking home in the early hours of July 10, 2013.

Mr Ryan had been arrested for his own safety earlier in the evening after being found in an intoxicated state.

He had been released from custody and was walking home when he was set upon by Phelan, of Galvone Road, Kennedy Park, Limerick.

After the attack Mr Ryan's life completely changed, Limerick Circuit Court heard.

Judge O'Donnell extended his sympathies to the Ryan family.

He said the attack on the victim left him "incontinent and unable to feed himself".

Mr Ryan died 18 months later in a nursing home from pneumonia and other health complications.

His mother died of a stroke, which the Ryan family believed was due to massive stress of seeing her son's slow demise following the attack.

Judge O'Donnell said the attack on Mr Ryan left a "severe impact" on the entire family.

A medical report on Mr Ryan's injuries stated he suffered two skull fractures, two brain haemorrhages as a result of blunt force trauma to his head.

Judge O'Donnell said that following the attack Mr Ryan was left him unable to communicate properly and "disorientated to time, place, and persons".

"Every vastitude of independence was taken from him. He was not able to fend for himself (afterwards) and he suffered a slow demise," the judge said.

The court heard that after the attack while he was living in a nursing home the only question he would ask was: "When am I going home?".


Speaking outside the court, a sister of the victim Breda O'Callaghan said the family were "happy" with the sentence, but would have preferred if Phelan was given the entire 11 years.

"We hope that this Patrick Phelan will realise what he did was wrong and we hope that it will change him when he gets out," an emotional Ms O'Callaghan said.

"We'll never get Thomas back, it'll never bring him back, no matter how many years (Phelan) got.

"We just hope he learns his lesson and doesn't attack another elderly man.

"He lived on his own, he was a bit of a loner. He was in London for 25 years as a chef. He loved to cook. He came back then to be with my mother and father in their last few years here.

"He went about his business. He liked a few drinks now and again, but all he would do is sing. He loved to sing," she added.