Friday 22 June 2018

Dad (74) told son to 'get on with' brutal assault

A 74-year-old man who sat on a couch as his son brutally assaulted a 16 year old boy in a bathroom has been given a five year suspended jail term for not intervening.

Sligo Circuit Court heard last Tuesday how Michael Andrews had turned away Gardaí and the step dad of the victim who had called to the house at 57 Glendallon concerned for the welfare of the boy on April 23rd 2017.

The victim said the defendant, a father of six, continued watching television during his ordeal as if nothing had happened and told his son to “get on with it.” “He never made any effort to stop it. I could have died in that house and he’d have covered it up,” said the boy in a victim impact report read to the court. He still suffered from nightmares and flashbacks. Andrews pleaded guilty to impeding the arrest of his son Harry, then 18, knowing he had committed an arrestable offence.

Harry Andrews received an eight year jail term in February for false imprisonment, suspending the final two years on condition he keep the peace for five years post release. The 16-year-old boy feared he was going to die after being attacked in a tortuous ordeal that went on for an hour an a half.

The boy was handcuffed, hit with a hatchet on the head, had his throat cut with a Stanley knife, was stabbed, had a plastic bag put over his head in a bid to suffocate him and had tissues shoved in his mouth. The boy, who was eventually released after alert Gardaí saw his despairing hand resting on the frosted glass of a bathroom window where much of the ordeal was taking place pushed their way into the house.

They had initially been told that there was no one else in the house by the perpetrator’s elderly father, Michael. The boy told Gardaí that he had to keep fighting off his attacker, Harry Andrews. Several times Andrews went to slit the boy’s throat telling him at one stage “I’m going to go for the jugular.” Judge Johnson described the incident as horrific and a savage and vicious attack.

Harry Andrews claimed he was owed drug money by the boy but the latter stated the defendant was obsessed with his girlfriend and this was the reason which lay behind the savage attack. When Gardaí entered the house and rescued the boy they described blood being everywhere. The boy had gone with Harry Andrews to his house around 7.50pm after the latter had asked him for help with the moving of a washing machine.

When they got to the house, the 16-year old was told to sit on the couch. Andrews then produced a kitchen knife and stabbed the victim in his back on the left side. He had seen the knife coming towards him and kept trying to block it. Andrews began making accusations and then produced a Stanley knife. Andrews got on top of him and kept trying to slit his throat with the blade.

The boy was also struck a number of times with a hatchet on the head. He said Michael Andrews was sitting in the armchair and did nothing to stop his son. Andrews brought the victim outside and on to a green area. Andrews saw a group of men he didn’t get on with so turned back. The victim said he was constantly being threatened and constantly feared being killed.

They returned to the house and he was brought to the bathroom where the handcuffs were taken off and he was further violently assaulted and an attempt was made to suffocate him. The victim said that throughout the incident Michael Andrews kept shouting into the bathroom to his son to “finish up.” Ms Dara Foynes BL (prosecuting) said Andrews had access to a mobile phone which he didn’t use.

When the boy’s step father called to the house Andrews answered and said there was no one in the house. He also stated this on the phone to the father of the boy’s girlfriend when he rang looking for him. The boy recalled that at one point the defendant told his son to “take it outside” and not to “kill him inside.” He had seen everything that went on, said the boy.

Garda Eamon McDonnell told the court previously he had arrived at the house following a call at around 9pm that a man was being held against his will there. Michael Andrews answered the door and said there was no one else there only him and his dog. He then closed the door.

There were no sounds from inside and everything appeared normal. As witness left with Garda Kieran Staed and Garda Ciara McMullin, the latter saw the palm of a hand being placed flat against the bathroom window to the right of the front door. She went to the window and shouted out that Gardaí were present and could they open the window or get out.

There was no response and the hand slipped down the glass.The Gardaí returned again to the door and once more Michael Andrews said there was no one inside. They then pushed past him into the house. They saw Harry Andrews changing clothes in the bathroom. During interviews with Gardaí, Michael Andrews said the victim and his son “were as bad as each other.” He said he wasn’t able bodied enough to stop two people fighting.

“I didn’t know what to do to be honest,” he told Gardaí. He also stated he was afraid of his son’s temper. He said he kept shouting to his son to leave and to “take it outside in the street.” His son had told him to answer the door and to state he wasn’t in. The defendant didn’t have any previous convictions and was assessed as being of low risk of re-offending.

Mr Colm Smyth SC with Mr Joe Barnes BL, instructed by Mr Gerard McGovern, solicitor (defending) said the defendant was on medication for a chronic heart condition.

Garda O’Donnell agreed that the defendant had put up with bad behaviour from his son over the previous two and a half years and had been subjected to aggressive behaviour. The defendant told the court he lived alone and had worked hard all his life. He apologised to the victim who was not in court but whose mother was.

Asked what he meant by saying to his son to get on with it, the defendant replied: “Get is over with and get out of my house I meant.” He was also asked why he had tried to deny Gardaí entry to the house a second time. “It was just how it was. I had to look after myself as well,” he said. Judge Keenan Johnson said it was one of the worst assaults he had ever heard in court and it was by the Grace of God the Gardaí arrived when they did.

The defendant was a passive participant and had ample opportunity to intervene. It would appear this type of offending was out of character for the defendant. It was a one-off aberation but a serious one.

“Telling his son to get on with it was not exactly the actions of a passive or someone who was acting under duress,” he said. The victim had suffered very serious injuries and suffered from a degree of post traumatic stress, added the Judge.

He imposed a five year term but said he was suspending it for seven years in light of the age and frail health of the defendant. He was also ordered to keep the peace for seven years and over the next five years pays €5,000 to the victim at a rate of €1,000 a year, the first sum due before December 1st next.

Sligo Champion