The daughter of an elderly woman whose life was destroyed after a mugging has criticised a judge for handing down a suspended sentence to the mugger, who has more than 80 previous convictions.
The woman said the fact that the judge described the offence as an “appalling crime” made it all the more difficult for her to understand why a suspended sentence was imposed.
The victim’s daughter, Liz, said: “I would love to come face-to-face with that judge and I would say to him: ‘How would you feel if that was your mother?’
“I would ask him how would you feel if one of your fellow judges let the person responsible walk out the door without so much as a rap on the wrist, because that’s what a suspended sentence is — a pardon in my book.
“It was as if my mother didn’t count. If he considered it so appalling, why did he think it was OK to leave him walk out the door?”
Liz was speaking out on The Neil Prendeville Show on RedFM yesterday after the court case, arising out of the 2011 mugging on the northside of Cork City, was reported in Friday’s Irish Examiner.
Liz said that, at the time of the attack, her then 81-year-old mother was a very healthy and active woman who visited the city daily to pick up messages and dropped in regularly to McDonald’s for food.
She said her mother loved going out, being with people, and enjoyed family trips on Sunday.
However, Liz said, the mugging on January 26, 2011, near her home on Cork’s northside, had a devastating effect on her.
Her mother had just got off a bus at around 6.30pm and was making her way home when Kenneth Duggan, aged 26, who was a heroin addict at the time, approached her from behind.
Duggan, formerly of Ballinderry Park, Mayfield, Cork, and now living at Beech Rd, Ballincollig, grabbed the woman’s handbag, dragging her along the footpath for a few metres.
Two neighbours came to the victim’s assistance and chased Duggan but he got away with the bag.
The court heard last week that, earlier in the day of the mugging, Duggan broke in through the rear window of a house at St Christopher’s Rd, Montenotte, Cork.
The alarm went off and Duggan fled empty-handed. Gardaí examined CCTV and interviewed Duggan a short time later.
He denied any involvement in either crime but he called to a detective a few weeks later and admitted the burglary and robbery.
A short time later, Duggan went on holidays to Spain and got involved in a bar brawl, which resulted in him serving more than two years in various Spanish prisons.
Liz said the mugging changed her mother’s life forever.
“She was a nervous wreck after it, and she couldn’t put it behind her. Things went downhill and her health deteriorated,” said Liz.
Her mother suffered various health complications, became incapacitated, was hospitalised before she had to go in to a care home where she suffered a major stroke. Now aged 84, she is completely incapacitated.
Liz said she believes her mother’s health issues are directly linked to the trauma of the mugging.
In court last week, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin described the mugging of an elderly and frail woman as a “truly appalling crime”.
The judge accepted that the plea of guilty was of value in the case, as the victim might have had great difficulty coming to court to testify in a trial.
He acknowledged evidence that Duggan was off heroin and accepted that, if he had been sentenced shortly after the crime, he would have served the sentence by now.
Given the circumstances, the judge imposed a suspended three-year sentence on Duggan.
Some of Duggan’s previous convictions:
- Oct 2006: Kenneth Duggan, aged 18, was sentenced to nine months in prison for carrying out nine burglaries in and around the Mayfield area of Cork City during the summer of that year.
- June 2007: Duggan, who was then 19 and who had begun using heroin in November the previous year, was jailed for three years for a spate of burglaries — two houses at Hollymount, two at Montenotte, and one at Lehenaghmore. He had been arrested for two burglaries, and was later released from Mayfield Garda Station, but carried out two more burglaries on his way home.
- April 2009: Duggan, who was by now 20, got a two-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to robbing a woman’s handbag at Dunnes Stores, Ballyvolane, Cork, while she was putting her shopping in the boot of her car. The woman was knocked over during the robbery. Duggan was serving a three-year sentence for burglary at the time, and was out on temporary release. This new sentence, imposed by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin, was to start at the end of the sentence he was serving at the time.
- October 2009: Judge Patrick J Moran handed down a two-year sentence to Duggan, now 21, for stealing €2,000 during a break-in in Carrigaline in January of that year.
- December 2009: Duggan was jailed for three months for stealing two boxes of vodka bottles worth around €200 from a house in Whitechurch in August the previous year. The sentence ran concurrent to longer sentences he was serving.
- September 2011: Duggan, who was by now 23, was before the courts again after being caught driving without insurance for the eight time — in spite of a 10-year disqualification. Of the 84 previous convictions he had by now, about half were for road traffic offences.
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