By Jessica Magee
A man who terrorised a family in a “drunken rampage” during which he assaulted two children, smashed windows and made threats to kill has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
David Lawrence (22), with an address at Gardiner's Hill Halting Site Balbriggan, Co Dublin, admitted assaulting and threatening to kill a teenage boy at a house in Lusk on April 23, 2017.
He further pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting a 15-year-old girl on the same occasion, and smashing windows with a bale of briquettes and a lump of timber.
Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said the fact that Lawrence had little or no memory of committing these crimes because he was drunk was no excuse.
“Drink is a voluntary activity and when you drink and behave in this way, you're responsible for your behaviour,” he said.
“He went on a drunken rampage and behaved disgracefully,” said Judge Nolan, adding that it was an extremely frightening experience for the family who were suffering long-term consequences.
Detective Garda Garret Durnan told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that the family had since left the house because of the incident.
The court heard that Lawrence knocked on the family's door on the evening in question and asked to use the toilet. The mother of the house was not at home at the time.
A 15-year-old girl let him in to use the bathroom and Lawrence then left but returned a few minutes later and asked to use her phone.
When the girl refused, Lawrence knocked her to the ground with both hands and her teenage brother came out of the sitting room and asked him what he was doing.
Lawrence squared up to the boy and hit him, and then took a bale of briquettes and smashed them through the window of the front door.
The brother and sister locked themselves into a bathroom and heard more windows being smashed and Lawrence shouting that he was going to slit the boy's throat with a knife.
The girl told gardaí that Lawrence came back slightly later with a wooden stick and smashed another window, and tried unsuccessfully to open the bathroom door where she stood shaking and crying and holding her brother's hand.
The woman of the house, who cannot be named in order to protect her children's identity, read out a victim impact statement in which she said her world fell apart because of the incident.
She said she got a call from her daughter who was screaming hysterically and saying that Lawrence was going to kill her brother and that she arrived home to find “our family home broken to pieces”.
“We lost everything: our home, our friends. Emotionally and psychologically this has destroyed my life,” she said, adding that she felt as if she has failed her children. “The woman I once was is long gone,” she said.
Her son also read out a victim impact statement in which he said he doubted that Lawrence would ever understand the effect of his “crazy outburst” on his family.
“I no longer live a happy life. I have dropped out of college, I've lost all motivation. I've become much more nervous about leaving the house, I can't sleep at night and have daily flashbacks,” he said.
His sister, now aged 16, also took the stand and read out a victim impact statement in which she said her life had changed for the worse and that she “lost everything” that day.
She said she thought it was all her fault as she hadn't given Lawrence her phone.
“I thought my brother was going to die over me,” she said, adding that she did not feel she could go back to school and that she trusted no one and was always looking over her shoulder.
Gda Durnan said the family had known Lawrence previously and had been on good terms until the incident.
“There was no motivating factor; no malice. I believe the alcohol was the catalyst,” said Gda Durnan.
Lawrence has 61 previous convictions including 39 for road traffic matters and others for theft, burglary, criminal damage and arson.
Counsel for Lawrence said a lot of his convictions flowed from his long-standing drink problems and that he was “a different man” when sober.
He apologised to the victims on behalf of Lawrence and said that when his client had been shown the victim impact statements they “really hit home”.
“He bears them absolutely no ill will and has deep remorse,” said counsel for Lawrence, adding that his client could not explain or excuse his actions on the day due to drink.
The sentence was backdated to September 7 last, when Lawrence went into custody.