Attacker who told victim 'if the cancer doesn't kill you, I will kill you' receives four-year jail term

"I was completely helpless. I could do nothing. I have been through many situations in my life and I thought I was going to die that day.”

Attacker who told victim 'if the cancer doesn't kill you, I will kill you' receives four-year jail term

By Gordon Deegan

A 21-year old man who told a cancer patient 'if the cancer doesn't kill you, I will kill you’ during a terrifying 40-minute assault was today jailed for four years.

In the attack, Jason Burke battered 61-year-old Shannon man, James Delaney around the head and body with a baseball bat at his home last July.

At Ennis Circuit Court today, Judge Gerald Keys described the assault by Mr Burke on Mr Delaney as "vicious".

Judge Keys said that he would suspend the final 14 months of the four-year jail term and backdated the sentence to July last when Mr Burke was brought into custody.

Mr Delaney wasn't in court for the sentencing but speaking outside court last month when evidence was heard in the case, Mr Delaney said: “I feared for my life. At times I thought that was it, that it was over.”

Mr Delaney is currently being treated for prostate, stomach and bowel cancer and he wept as he said: “I felt totally powerless and I was ashamed - ashamed that I couldn’t defend myself because I was so weak.”

Mr Delaney was on crutches at the time of the attack following breaking a leg in three places and he said: “I was there in my house in a T-shirt, shorts, no shoes on and crutches and being beaten with the baton.

He said: “The cancer had taken all the strength away from me - and he knew that and he would know every part of my history. I was completely helpless. I could do nothing. I have been through many situations in my life and I thought I was going to die that day.”

Mr Delaney had acted as a mentor in the past to Mr Burke in helping him “in every area of his life” and trying to the keep the man on the straight and narrow and Mr Delaney said that he had no fear when he allowed Mr Burke into his home on July 26th last.

Asked his view now of Mr Burke, Mr Delaney said: “I feel nothing. He doesn’t have any power over me. He is not in my thoughts every day.”

In the case, Mr Burke of no fixed abode pleaded guilty to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to James Delaney at his home at Fana Ghael in Shannon on July 26 last.

Mr Burke also pleaded guilty to the the assault causing harm to Mr Delaney on the same date.

Outside court, Mr Delaney said: “I have great love in my life - great love. That is what I will focus myself on.”

In court, Det Garda David Laing said that Mr Burke was “in a frenzied rage and he was shouting and roaring that he was going to kill James Delaney and that he was the king".

Det Laing said that after the initial baseball strike to the head, Mr Burke hit his victim across the shoulder and chest area with the bat and that the attacker then head-butted Mr Delaney three times and followed up with kicks to the groin and right leg.

Det Laing said that Mr Delaney scrambled to get out the front door but was hit on the head with the baseball bat once more and suffered a momentarily loss of consciousness. Det Laing said that Mr Burke overpowered James Delaney and pushed him back into the living room and again striking him with the bat.

Det Laing added that Mr Burke issued a further threat to his victim that he wouldn’t let him out of the house and that he was going to kill him.

Mr Burke came across some of Mr Delaney’s medication under a couch while he also went through Mr Delaney’s kitchen cabinets looking for more.

Mr Delaney said that he only managed to get Mr Burke out of the house when saying that his son - who is 6ft 2 and a steel fixer - was due to arrive at the house as he does every day to see how his father is.

On behalf of Mr Burke, Patrick Whyms BL said that on the day, Mr Burke said that he had a bottle of Hennessy, four cans and 50 tablets.

Gardaí later that night found Mr Burke walking around Nenagh in a disorientated and intoxicated state and found to be in possession of Mr Delaney’s medication. In his first Garda interview, Mr Burke described the allegation around the assault as "all bullshit".

Garda Laing said that Mr Burke “would have been living rough for a number of years as his mother would not have been able to cope with him because of psychiatric and addiction issues”.

Mr Whyms said that his client instructed him to offer an unreserved apology to Mr Delaney.

Mr Whyms said that Mr Delaney is a double victim as he was already a victim of illness before the serious assault on him.

Mr Whyms said that Mr Burke’s life story is one of many wrong turns, hard turns and hardship.

He said: “He has been placed in foster homes on several occasions in several parts of the country and has had significant mental health difficulties.”

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