A judge has ordered a man who attacked and robbed a 67-year-old farmer to look at a photograph of the victim and “observe his handiwork”.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring ordered that the photograph of the victim’s facial injuries be shown to Philip Connolly before asking him how he would feel if something similar happened to his grandfather.
The judge also noted that Connolly is now in a rehabilitation programme which involves working on a farm while his victim, David Feeney, can no longer work his land as a result of the assault.
Connolly (aged 39) of North Richmond Street Flats appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with his co-accused Leigh O’Connell (aged 28) of Upper Camden Street after both pleaded guilty to robbery of Mr Feeney on Railway Street in Dublin city centre on May 14, 2013. A third suspect is still before the courts.
O’Connell, who has 100 previous convictions including 16 for robberies and assaults, was sentenced to four years with the final two-and-a-half years suspended on condition he continues addressing his drug problems.
Judge Ring noted his difficult upbringing and life on the streets but said there are many people in similar situations who do not commit such offences.
Connolly was remanded on continuing bail until May 15, 2014 to allow him complete his treatment course. He has eleven previous convictions.
Garda John Saunderson told prosecuting counsel Garnet Orange BL that Mr Feeney was visiting Dublin on business and had checked into a guest house on Gardiner Street before going out for a meal and a few pints.
He had left a pub after listening to some traditional music and was trying to locate his guesthouse when three men attacked him from behind.
O’Connell grabbed the farmer in a headlock and dragged him onto a side-street. O’Connell then held him on the ground while Connolly and another man assaulted him. The three men then fled after taking Mr Feeney’s money, phone and driver’s licence.
The entire incident was caught on CCTV footage and the men were easily identified.
Judge Ring noted that it was clear from the photograph in the book of evidence that Mr Feeney was an elderly man and that this would also have been clear to his attackers.
Mr Feeney has physically recovered but continues to suffer other consequences including loss of confidence. His son has since taken over the running of the farm.
Counsel for Connolly, Luigi Rea BL, said his client was an addict at the time and was on the formerly legal “snow blow” head shop drug. He said he was distressed at the time because he was not allowed access to his children.
Mr Rea added his client is now in a strict, religious based drug treatment programme and is clean of alcohol and drugs.
O’Connell’s counsel, Sandra Frayne BL, said her client was also a drug addict but is now addressing this while in custody. She said he is a man who had once shown great potential put has been failed by State services.
Counsel added that O’Connell now wants to turn his life around and try to help himself and others.