An eight-year-old girl told gardaí she thought her “daddy was going to die” when he was assaulted by an armed gang during an aggravated burglary in the family home, a court heard yesterday.
Seven men in their twenties from Dublin who have admitted the offence will be sentenced tomorrow for their part in the incident at the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran and their three daughters.
The gang entered the family’s house in Burnchurch, a rural area outside Killenaule in Co Tipperary, as trespassers, armed with a shotgun, a handgun, and a machete, early on November 21, 2013.
A hearing at Clonmel Circuit Court was told yesterday that the Corcorans were in fear of their lives and the lives of their children, aged eight, six, and two at the time, during the incident.
The seven who have pleaded guilty to the offence are John Joyce, aged 21, of Lentisk Lawn, The Donaghies, Donaghmede, Dublin; Dean Byrne, aged 22, of Cabra Park, Dublin 7; Patrick Gately, aged 28, of Primrose Grove, Darndale, Dublin 17; Thomas Flynn, aged 21, of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 17; Patrick Joyce, aged 23, of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods, Dublin 9; Michael McDonagh, aged 23, of Tara Lawns, Belcamp Lane, Coolock, Dublin 17; and Donal O’Hara, aged 22, from Glin Park, Coolock, Dublin 17.
They travelled in convoy from Dublin to Tipperary, stealing a car in Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny on the way, on the night of November 20/21 in 2013 and were apprehended by gardaí at two locations on the motorway system as they tried to make their getaway back to Dublin.
Detective Sergeant James White told the court that Mr Corcoran, who was sleeping in a back bedroom as he had an early start the next morning and did not want to wake the rest of the family, was awoken by a man in a black balaclava, “brandishing a large knife” and another man who had a handgun. They shouted “where is the safe?” and “where is the money?”.
Mr Corcoran was led into the living area of the house and struck in the face with the butt of a gun and sustained a fractured eye socket. His hands were tied behind his back with cable-ties and one of the raiders knelt on his back.
“The eldest two children were awake and in the hallway,” Sgt White said. “They had a clear view of what was going on. They could see what was happening to their father. They could hear the raiders making threats.”
Mr Corcoran “thought he was going to be shot”, the court heard. “He was in fear of his life,” said Sgt White.
His wife, Emma Corcoran, was awoken by the sound of glass breaking and made a 999 call before leaving her phone under the bed with the call still active.
“The one thing that is most clear in the 999 recording was the terrified screams of the children,” Sgt White said.
At one point, Ms Corcoran was “forcibly removed” from her bedroom and saw her husband being struck in the face. She was also told “we’ll kill your fucking kids” by one of the raiders.
“Emma Corcoran was, without doubt, in fear of her life and that of her three children,” Sgt White said.
The Corcorans had a gym equipment-supply business at the time, which they since closed as a result of their ordeal, but there was no safe in the house. The raiders took about €1,300 in cash, which represented the previous day’s takings and petty cash, as well as jewellery.
The raiders took the Corcorans’ family car, a seven-seat Kia Sorrento, as well as their own Volkswagen Passat, to make their escape.
One of the vehicles, containing five of the gang, was apprehended near Monasterevin, and gardaí arrested the men at about 4.25am.
The other car, the stolen Kia, was eventually stopped just before Newlands Cross and two men inside were arrested — Gately who was driving, and his passenger, Byrne.
Judge Teehan said he will pass down the sentences tomorrow.
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