Former good samaritan jailed for seven years

A young Dublin man who once helped save a Romanian family from their burning home has been jailed for seven years for firing bullets through another couple’s front door and sitting room window.

Gardaí who happened to be in the area at the time ran towards the gunshot sounds and saw Daniel Fitzpatrick (aged 21) discard what looked like a shotgun and ammunition as he fled the scene with another youth.

Garda David Leonard said Ms Kathleen Gaffney had been sitting in her living room watching TV when a shot blasted through her window hitting the fireplace and spraying glass all over her hair.

Gda Leonard said another shot came through the front door into the hall and down into the kitchen, extending the damage to the back of the house.

Fitzpatrick, of Castlegrange Square, Clondalkin, made no admissions during interview but eventually pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition with intent to endanger life at Lealand Avenue, Clondalkin in the early hours of August 8, 2009.

He has 16 previous minor road traffic convictions.

Gda Leonard told Mr Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that Ms Gaffney later mentioned to gardaí that the incident may have had something to do with a dispute between Fitzpatrick and her teenage son.

Gda Leonard said the Gaffneys have since left their home in Dublin and moved to the countryside where they struggle to build a new life without their old friends.

He said the couple had to wait eight weeks “terrified” in the house before they were relocated.

Gda Leonard agreed with Mr Blaise O’Carroll SC, defending, that his client had taken drink and drugs on the night.

He agreed that Fitzpatrick’s picture had appeared in the Star newspaper around a year before the shooting with a caption saying “Fantastic Four” and an accompanying article describing how the young boxing enthusiast and his three friends had saved a Romanian family from a house fire.

Mr O’Carroll submitted to Judge Katherine Delahunt that his client showed the “good side” of his character during his event, which would be leverage against the 10-year minimum mandatory sentence for the shooting.

Mr O’Carroll also submitted that his client is “deeply sorry” for the hurt and trauma his actions inflicted on the Gaffneys.

Judge Delahunt accepted Fitzpatrick’s behaviour on the night as “out-of-character” but said she would never acknowledge alcohol or drug abuse as an excuse for offending.

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