Man told to ‘observe his handiwork’ after assault

A man who took part in the violent robbery of a 67-year-old Waterford farmer who was visiting Dublin City has avoided a jail sentence.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring ordered Philip Connolly to look at a photograph of the victim’s facial injuries and “observe his handiwork”. She asked him how he would feel if something similar happened to his grandfather.

The judge also observed that Connolly is now in a rehabilitation programme which involves working on a farm while his victim, David Feeney, can no longer work his land as a result of the assault.

Connolly, aged 39, of North Richmond St Flats, Dublin, appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with his co-accused, Leigh O’Connell, aged 28, of Upper Camden St, after both pleaded guilty to robbery of Mr Feeney on Railway St, Dublin city centre, on May 14, 2013.

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O’Connell, who has 100 previous convictions including 16 for robbery and assault, was previously sentenced to four years with the final two-and-a-half suspended on condition he continue addressing his drug problems.

Dealing with Connolly yesterday, Judge Ring suspended a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for 18 months on condition he keep the peace for that period. She said she was taking into consideration his early plea of guilty and the work he has done since the offence to deal with his drug problems.

Judge Ring noted his difficult upbringing and life on the streets but said there are many people in similar situations who do not commit such offences.

Connolly, originally from Athlone, Co Westmeath, has 11 previous convictions for minor offences.

Garda John Saunderson told Garnet Orange, prosecuting, that Mr Feeney, from Ballyduff, Co Waterford, was visiting Dublin on business and had checked into a guesthouse on Gardiner St before going out for a meal and a few pints. He had left a pub after listening to some traditional music and was trying to locate his guesthouse when three men attacked him from behind.

O’Connell grabbed the farmer in a headlock and dragged him onto a side-street. He then held him on the ground while Connolly and another man assaulted him. The three men then fled after taking Mr Feeney’s money, phone, and driver’s licence.

The incident was caught on CCTV footage and the men were easily identified.

Judge Ring noted that it was clear from the photograph in the book of evidence that Mr Feeney was an elderly man and that this would also have been clear to his attackers.

Mr Feeney has physically recovered but continues to suffer other consequences including loss of confidence. His son has since taken over the running of the farm.

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