A Dublin criminal who told a family to hand over €40,000 or they would be burying their son within three days, has been jailed for four years at Sligo Circuit Court.
Julian O’Connor, aged 38, St Brigid’s Rd, Artane, Dublin, was part of a three-man gang who told the Gormley family from Carrowgaveen, Coolaney, on January 14, 2013, that if the money was not paid within two days, they would be burying their adult son Barry on the third day. In jailing O’Connor for five years, with the last year suspended for three years, Judge Keenan Johnson said it was an appalling “shakedown” on the Gormley family and it had a devastating effect on them.
In a victim impact statement, the family told an earlier sitting the death threat to their son and brother was to “change our family forever”.
They were not able to sleep and if they did, they had nightmares about these people coming back to harm them. They said they were “completely clueless” as to why they were targeted and felt they had been “watched for weeks or months”.
Two of the family spoke of how the experience had affected their studies and she could never come back to live in Sligo. It
added that the family had spent a “financially crippling” amount of money on installing cameras and other security equipment at their home.
O’Connor pleaded guilty at yesterday’s sitting to threatening to kill Barry Gormley and making a threat with menace at Carriwgaveen, Coolaney, on the date in question.
The judge said it was of concern that although most of O’Connor’s previous offences were for road traffic matters, there were also previous convictions for theft and possession of firearms.
Judge Johnson said the early guilty plea and his full and open apology to the Gormley family would hopefully give them some comfort in the future. A letter from his partner said a jail term would have a huge negative effect on his innocent family.
The judge said he wished the Gormley family all the best in the future after their ordeal.
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