A violent burglar used as “muscle” to evict a family from their home, in an attack led by former INLA man Dessie O’Hare, has had his prison sentence increased on foot of an appeal by prosecutors.
Donal O’Hara (aged 27), of Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin on June 9, 2015.
He also admitted falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne at Rathcoole and Saggart on the same date.
CCTV footage captured the moment five men, including O’Hara, dragged Mr Roche from his house and assaulted him on the ground by kicking and punching him.
O’Hara was sentenced to three years imprisonment with the final year suspended, by Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding at the three-judge court, on July 31, 2018.
The Court of Appeal found O’Hara’s sentence to be “unduly lenient” today, on foot of an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was accordingly resentenced to four years' imprisonment with the final year suspended, thus increasing his jail time by 12 months.
Giving judgment, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said these were “very serious offences”.
He said the fact the false imprisonments were taking place “as part of a campaign to cause a family to leave their home is particularly disturbing”.
He said members of the Byrne family witnessed the very serious assault on Mr Roche, which must have contributed to their sense of “fear and alarm”.
Mr Justice Birmingham said O’Hara was on bail, in respect of a serious aggravated burglary, for which he received a significant sentence when he committed the present offences.
He said the Court of Appeal was “driven to the conclusion” that the net sentence of two years in jail was “clearly unduly lenient” to an “appreciable extent”.
He said the court had “internal comparators” in respect of sentences handed down to O’Hara’s accomplices.
Dessie O'Hare (aged 62), of Slate Rock Road, Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, also pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Roche, causing him harm, and falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne on the same occasion. O’Hare, also known as “The Border Fox” was jailed for seven years yesterday.
Declan Duffy (aged 44) of Hannover Street West in Dublin, also pleaded guilty to the same offences and was sentenced to six years imprisonment on January 29, 2018.
Daniel Kane (aged 29), of Hollycourt in Ballybrack, County Dublin, also pleaded guilty to the same offences and was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final year suspended on April 27, 2018.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, resentenced O’Hara to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended, thus increasing his jail term by 12 months.
Counsel for the DPP, Shane Costelloe SC, characterised the offence as a “gang of thugs accosting” a man to take him out of his house. He accepted that while other parties to the incident were “executives”, O’Hara was “muscle”.
In 2013, O’Hara was one of seven men who travelled from Dublin in convoy in order to commit a burglary at the home of a family in a cul de sac, in a rural area outside Killenaule, south Tipperary.
He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final seven years suspended for his role in the raid.