Burglar attacked injured man with yard brush during home raid

A 57-year-old man dozed off on his couch with his arm in a sling but woke to a masked raider striking him with force with a heavy yard brush.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it must have been obvious to the raider that the householder had the injury as his arm was in a sling.

Thomas O’Neill, aged 46, of 3 Ringfort Avenue, Ballrothery, Fingal, Dublin, was jailed for six years yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The judge imposed a term of eight years with the last two suspended.

Detective Garda Kevin Heffernan testified that the householder from Enniskeane suffered a workplace injury the previous day and had a dislocated shoulder and nerve damage.

That night — December 21, 2017 — it was too painful for him to lie down so he stayed on the sofa where he fell asleep after watching television for a while.

“After midnight he woke to find a man wielding his large yard brush over his head. He struck down twice on his head and he (the injured party) defended himself with his other arm. He screamed for help,” said Det Garda Heffernan.

The injured party’s adult son came to his assistance and the raider fled. The victim’s wife later had to be sedated she was so upset by the aggravated burglary.

Members of the family followed the raider who ran across to a church. They saw the light from his phone as he made his way down a laneway. Gardaí were alerted and they arrived quickly and arrested O’Neill.

The householder said in his victim impact statement that the family had been left with anxiety about the possibility of another experience like this.

“This man crashed into our lives that night. He has not left our lives since,” he said.

The victim said it was possibly fortunate that it happened to them as they had dealt with it to some degree and not happened to someone who was older or more vulnerable.

Ray Boland, defence barrister, said the accused had problems with heroin, alcohol and gambling and also had mental health issues in the past.

He said O’Neill was highly intoxicated on the night and was staying in the area at that time. Mr Boland said the accused had gone drinking in a pub in Enniskeane and that if he had really planned the crime he would have stayed away from any place with CCTV on the night.

O’Neill brought €2,000 compensation to court for the victims and wrote a letter of apology.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said aggravating factors included the invasion of the family home and the violence used on a man who was clearly injured already.

“Maybe there was not much planning but he went about it with determination. He put the victim in genuine terror,” the judge said.

Det Garda Heffernan outlined serious criminal convictions against the accused for similar crimes, including robbery, possession of a firearm and ammunition to endanger life and aggravated.

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