Priest recalls ‘no mercy’ as attacker avoids jail

A RETIRED Limerick-born priest who ministered to murderers on death row in the US last night recalled his “worst nightmare” encounter with criminals.

Fr Edward Kirby said two Limerick men showed him no mercy in a brutal assault when they burgled his home.

Fr Kirby said: “They almost put me to death.”

He described his ordeal after one of his attackers got a suspended jail sentence at Limerick Circuit Court.

Fr Kirby, 74, who worked as a voluntary chaplain at Raiford State Penitentiary in Florida, said his attackers beat him over the head with a mallet.

“I did not know anything like this could happen in my own city of Limerick. In all the years I went into Raiford, nothing ever happened to me and I was never under threat as I moved among men who had murdered, raped and robbed,” he said.

“But these two who attacked me here in my own city of Limerick came at me brutally and showed no mercy.”

Jamie Power, 18, of Smith O’Brien Avenue, Kileely, who walked free from Limerick Circuit Court yesterday, had pleaded guilty last July to assault causing harm to Fr Kirby and to entering Fr Kirby’s home to carry out a burglary.

The court heard a co-accused, Joseph Tobin, of Hogan Avenue, Kileely, was the prime mover in the crime. He was jailed at a previous sitting of the court, for three years.

State prosecutor John O’Sullivan, BL, said that on November 6, 2006, the pair gained entry through a window in a conservatory.

During the hour they stayed in the house, they assaulted Fr Kirby, terrorised him and spat on him.

Fr Kirby was hit on the side of the head with a mallet and the house was ransacked.

They found €250 in cash and also took rings and Fr Kirby’s watch.

Fr Kirby managed to raise the alarm and an ambulance was called.

After evidence was given last July, Judge Carroll Moran adjourned the case to yesterday, saying if Power stayed out of trouble in the meantime he would not go to prison.

Passing a two-year suspended sentence yesterday, Judge Moran said Power had stayed out of trouble.

He bound Power to the peace for two years.


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