A burglar who terrorised an elderly woman before telling her his life story and asking for a cup of tea has been given a seven-year sentence by Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Quentin Sheridan (aged 33) offered an apology to his 62-year-old victim through his defence counsel, Mr Cormac Quinn BL, who also told the court that Sheridan suffered a serious assault in prison and “now knows what it’s like to be a victim of crime first-hand”.
The woman has been afraid to live alone since the incident and her daughter has moved back to live with her.
Sheridan, of Rossmore Grove, Templeogue, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at the woman's south Dublin home on October 8, 2008. He had 38 previous convictions.
Judge Delahunt imposed a seven-year sentence but suspended the final two years for five years.
Garda Carina Carroll told Mr Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that the woman, who lived alone, was in bed after 1am when she heard a crashing noise and saw some one running up the stairs. She shouted out and heard a man’s voice say: “Stop screaming. I don’t want to hurt you.”
She saw a man with a scarf over his face come into her bedroom and he told her: “I want money and jewellery.”
The woman replied: “I don’t have any left after you took it last time.” She wrongly believed that this was the same man who had broken into her house in an unrelated burglary two weeks earlier.
She noticed something in his hand as he continued to shout at her and get angrier. He switched on the light and she saw it was a seven-inch bread knife. She was also able to see his face and later gave gardaí a detailed description. “I thought I was finished” she told them.
She said there was a smell of alcohol from him and she saw he was also carrying a litre bottle of cider.
When she gave him her wallet containing €10, he said: “You must have more stuff in this big house.”
He asked her: “Did you ever meet a criminal before?” and when she said she had not, he told her he did not want to hurt her.
He told her it was not his fault that he had become involved in crime, that it was the circumstances he was in and said his father had robbed to feed the family.
Garda Carroll said things started to calm down and they began talking about his life and circumstances.
Sheridan apologised and told her: “I have to rob, this is what I have to do.” He then asked the woman for a cup of tea or coffee. She refused and escorted him downstairs. She noticed that her patio door had been shattered.
He left the house and drove off in her car using keys he had taken earlier. He also took about €260.
Garda Carroll agreed with Mr Quinn that Sheridan had told his victim about the problems in his life such as the death of his parents, his brother’s illness and his handicapped son but that the woman told him everyone has their own problems.
She agreed that gardaí were later conducting a drugs search at Sheridan’s home and found the keys belonging to the woman’s car which was parked nearby.
She agreed that Sheridan had been slashed across the face while in custody necessitating 31 stitches and leaving him with a permanent scar between his eyebrow and hairline. Sheridan believes this is related to a drug debt.
Mr Quinn said Sheridan had a long-term drug addiction and can do well for long periods of time but relapses. He said he had served a sentence in the United Kingdom for robbery and had been drug free on his return to Ireland.
He said Sheridan had been full of optimism on his return and had a business plan but while residing in temporary hostel accommodation he had relapsed.
Mr Quinn said Sheridan was again attending counselling and getting his life back together.