Robbers put bachelor in ‘state of fear’

At 10pm on Feb 21, 2012, bachelor Michael McMahon heard banging outside his home in rural Co Clare and could see three torches in the darkness outside.

Det Garda Donal Corkery told Ennis District court yesterday that on this occasion, three windows of Mr McMahon’s home were broken and Mr McMahon could see three people outside all were wearing hoodies.

He said the three demanded €500 from outside the home and Mr McMahon was frightened and told them through a broken window that he would give them the €500.

Stephen Coughlan, prosecuting, said that the robbers were not happy with €500 “and they threatened to come into the house and search the house if he didn’t give them more”.

Yesterday at Ennis Circuit Court, three Clare men pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon.

Joseph Lernihan, aged 21, of Finnanon Park, Mullagh, pleaded guilty to robbing Mr McMahon at Cree, on Feb 21 and 25, 2012. Shane Donnellan, aged 20, Clohanbeg, Cree, Kilrush, and Noel Garry, aged 20, of Tullycrine, Kilrush, pleaded guilty to the robbery of Mr McMahon on Feb 25, 2012. Mr McMahon fled his home and has lived in a nursing home ever since.

Det Garda Donal Corkery said around €7,000 in total was robbed from Mr McMahon.

Det Corkery said that at 10pm on Feb 21, Mr McMahon heard banging outside his home. Three windows were broken and he could see three people outside.

After they demanded more than the €500 he had offered, Mr Coughlan said that Mr McMahon, “in a state of fear”, handed the robbers three jars containing roughly €4,000 in cash.

Mr McMahon did not make a complaint to gardaí that night, the court heard.

The following day, Mr McMahon withdraw €3,000 from his bank account and put blocks and turf in the gaps made in the windows.

“Mr McMahon attended the bank two or three times a year and would withdraw roughly €3,000 and he would live on that for three to five months. As he had no money, that is why he had to go in,” the garda said.

On Feb 25, Det Corkery said Mr McMahon saw blocks were being removed from one of his broken windows and a pipe was being pointed into the house.

Det Corkery said it was a rung of a gate 2ft or 3ft in length made to resemble a gun.

Mr Coughlan said: “He was told that it was a gun and if he tried to leave the room he would be shot… Mr McMahon opened the door and saw were four people outside. One of these brought Mr McMahon out to the rear of the house while the others searched the house.”

Det Corkery said that the robbers requested Mr McMahon’s assistance to locate money.

Mr McMahon retrieved the remainder of the money, around €3,000, and gave it to the robbers. Mr Coughlan said: “They demanded and got Mr McMahon’s bank books and they told Mr McMahon to go to the bank the following Monday, and withdraw €50,000, and they would be back for that…

“Mr McMahon told the persons there that he wouldn’t be able to remain at his home because of their action and later at 1am that night, he gathered up his belongings and cycled from his address to St Joseph’s nursing home.”

Det Corkery said Donnellan and Lernihan are at the lower end of involvement in the crime, with Garry higher up.

The detective said the prime mover in the crime is not before the courts as there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Lernihan received €410 and €1,400 from the two robberies. He told gardaí: “I shouldn’t have gone near it.”

In a statement to gardaí, Donnellan said: “I’m so sorry about what I put that man through and I will pay back the money.”

Probation reports are not ready in the case.

Judge Carroll Moran adjourned sentencing to Ennis Circuit Court to Mar 3, remanding Garry in continuing custody and remanding Lernihan and Donnellan on continuing bail.

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