Man sentenced to 10 years for 'profoundly frightening' burglary at young family's house

By Jessica Magee

A pregnant woman, her partner and two young children awoke to find an intruder screaming and banging on their bed with a plank during a “profoundly frightening” burglary, a court has heard.

Kenneth Locke (29), of Ramillies Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison, with the final two and a half years suspended.

He had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary with a plank at Cloverhill Rd, Ballyfermot on April 1 this year.

The court heard Locke was extremely intoxicated at the time and had taken 30 or 40 Xanax tablets that day.

He has 127 previous convictions and committed this offence a little over a month after his release from an eight-year prison sentence with two years suspended for aggravated burglary.

Judge Melanie Greally noted from two victim impact reports that it had been a “profoundly frightening” incident for the family involved.

“The loss of a sense of security within their own home has been lasting and will be very difficult to restore,” she said. The reports were not read out in court.

She said the violation of the family home, with a pregnant woman and young children present, and the fact that Locke was armed with a plank, warranted a headline sentence of 10 years.

However, she gave Locke credit for his early guilty plea, his young age and his attempts, albeit unsuccessful, to address his drug addiction.

Garda Alan Egan told the court it had been an “extremely traumatising event” for the couple.

Banging the plank on baby's cot

He said the man had gone to bed at 9.30pm and was woken shortly after 3am by his partner screaming at him to wake up, and a fellow banging on his bed with a plank. The man was screaming continuously, “Where's the keys, where's the money?,” and broke his plank off the edge of the bed.

A second man then came into the room also carrying a plank, and in the other hand, a meat cleaver which the victim recognised as his own as it was missing part of the handle. The victim handed over the keys of a Nissan Micra which he had bought that week for €150.

The woman said she heard thumping on the stairs and thought initially that it was her sister coming home, but then saw a head peeping around the bedroom door and the man coming into her room screaming and banging the plank on their baby's cot.

She jumped over her partner to grab her daughter out of the cot as she was afraid the child would be injured. The woman said Locke grabbed her and pushed her back, whereupon she told him she was pregnant and to get his hands off her.

When the two intruders left the house, the woman and their two children, aged one and two, stayed in the bedroom while the man of the house rang the guards.

Locke was arrested nearby shortly afterwards after he incriminated himself by shouting remarks at gardaí.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, said his client was so drunk that he was unfit for interview for six hours. He later told gardaí he didn't remember anything about the day and that he was always intoxicated.

40 Xanax a day

He said he had drunk “a bit of gargle” and taken about 30 or 40 Xanax pills as he did every day and the incident was “all a blur”, however he made a number of slips indicating that he remembered more of the incident than he let on.

Mr Le Vert said Locke was one of nine children and that drink and drugs had been a serious problem for him since he was aged 14.

These addictions led Locke to extensive criminality and the vast bulk of his 20s was spent in custody.

Counsel said Locke was so institutionalised that when he was released from jail he had to take up to 40 Xanax a day simply to leave the house, such were his anxiety levels.

The court heard that Locke has been on a waiting list to see a drugs counsellor since he went into custody on April 1. Judge Greally backdated the sentence to take into account time spent in jail.

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