Man ordered nailgun attack on family’s home

A man who ordered a gang to attack a house has been jailed after a court heard the family’s home was sprayed with nails from a nailgun.

Judge John Aylmer said it was a miracle that someone was not seriously hurt when a gang attacked the family home in Co Donegal.

Donal Coyle and his family escaped with their lives when a gang of men shot up their home in Letterkenny in November 2006.

The gang, from Derry, had been ordered to carry out the attack by Marcus Spratt, who had accused Mr Coyle of previously attacking his van. The gang arrived at Mr Coyle’s home at Glencar Park and pumped it with nails from a nailgun.

They smashed several windows and sprayed the inside of the house with nails, with one of the nails missing Mr Coyle’s three-year-old son by inches.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how Spratt, of Gortnacorrib, Letterkenny, pleaded guilty to making threats to kill, causing criminal damage, and being in possession of an offensive weapon in July 2012.

However, before he was sentenced he fled to London, where he has worked successfully as a building contractor in recent years.

Two weeks ago, he was arrested at Heathrow Airport under a European Arrest Warrant and returned to Ireland. He appeared before Judge John Aylmer for sentence on all the outstanding sentences.

The judge remarked how the nailgun used in the attack was as powerful as any firearm as it had penetrated the hall door of Mr Coyle’s home and missed his son by inches.

“It is somewhat of a miracle that Mr Coyle and his family were not seriously injured,” he said.

He sentenced Spratt to three and a half years on both the threat to kill and possession of an offensive weapon charge and a further two and a half years for the criminal damage charge with all charges to run concurrently.

Spratt had denied he had been present at the house when it was attacked but was in another village, Convoy. He said that he was horrified when he later learned there was a young child in the house when it was attacked by the gang under his orders.

A victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Coyle was handed into the court by state prosecutor Patricia McLaughlin.

Barrister Ivan Toner said Mr Coyle and his client had since made up and that Spratt had since been living a successful life in London.


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