Det Garda Brian Maker said Paddy O’Brien, aged 52, set upon the victim on three occasions and CCTV showed him following her from a shop to the nearby church.
The 87-year-old woman gave the oath in Irish yesterday before giving her victim impact evidence in which she said: “He appears to be a man of cruelty who enjoys having a victim in his clutches.”
Judge David Riordan said sentencing was not an exercise in vengeance. He described O’Brien as a big man engaged in predatory behaviour and said the court had a duty to protect citizens. The judge sentenced him to eight years with the last three years suspended.
He was ordered to stay away from the accused for life and stay out of Cork City for three years after his release from jail, unless for medical or legal appointment previously notified to gardaí.
As well as the targeting the woman at her home, at St Augustine’s church and at the entrance to the South Parish church on Dunbar St, he pulled a knife on a 49-year-old Turkish woman when she was deep in prayer at St Peter and Paul’s Church — all offences carried out within days of each other during the summer.
The woman said: “The accused man broke into my home. I was so frightened when I walked into my living room to see him sitting comfortably in my armchair. He had a big smile on his face. He started to push me very roughly towards the kitchen. He had me in his grips,” she said adding that he grabbed her bag before leaving.
He had followed her earlier in the week from the church on Dunbar St and accosted her as she was putting the key in her front door.
In victim impact evidence she said she hated what she described as her cowardly feelings when she walked around her own home afterwards and looked to where the accused had made himself at home in her armchair.
The third time he accosted her in the porch of St Augustine’s on Grand Parade, an entrance she used because she could negotiate it with her walking aid.
She said she still felt nervous of people walking up to her in the city to offer her help and she worries about having to leave her home to live in a nursing home.
Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said O’Brien had a severe alcohol problem. Originally from Kinsale he had 128 previous convictions, and had been homeless and living rough on the streets of Cork when these four robberies were carried out in May and June.