They were so terrified by the ordeal they fled and slept in their car and later stayed with relatives in case they would come under further attack in their home.
The duo behind the aggravated burglary — a couple who have five children — were both jailed for five years yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Detective Garda Padraig Reddington outlined the background to the case where John O’Donnell, aged 37, of Bansha, Co Tipperary, and Angelique Arundel, aged 30, of 54 Shannon Lawn, Mayfield, Cork, both pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at the home of Frank Foley, of Churchtown, Mallow, Co Cork, between 10pm on August 28 and 2am on August 29, 2015.
Judge Séan Ó Donnabháin said the duo only pleaded guilty when they had seen the whites of the jurors’ eyes last week, moments before their trial was due to commence.
Mr Foley and his wife, who is O’Donnell’s sister, woke to the sound of breaking glass and were then faced with the sight of O’Donnell in their bedroom armed with a sledgehammer, and Arundel carrying an iron bar.
O’Donnell demanded €3,000 in cash the following day and €200 there and then.
“He informed Mr Foley he would finish him,” Det Gda Reddington told the court. “He said he would burn down the house and that if he called the gardaí, he would have a gun with him the next time.
“They were in huge fear they would return again.”
Niamh Stewart, defending O’Donnell, and Gareth Fleming, defending Arundel, said the two had five children and apologised for the aggravated burglary.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said that there were seriously aggravating facts in this case, where the crime was effectively committed in the bedroom of the victims, who were subjected to serious threats from O’Donnell while Arundel was also present.
The judge said that, in light of previous convictions, the duo would have merited a sentence of 10 years each if they had been convicted by a jury.
Arundel was jailed for five years.
O’Donnell was sentenced to seven years with the last two years suspended.
Seven men and five women were sworn as a jury for the case last week but the trial never went ahead as the pair asked to to be re-arraigned and changed their pleas to guilty.
The particulars of the aggravated burglary charges were that O’Donnell caused criminal damage at Mr Foley’s home while armed with a sledgehammer, while Arundel caused damage while armed with an iron bar.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin directed preparation of a victim impact statement for yesterday, and noted from this report that the defendants had put the victims in very real fear.