Burglars jailed after man suffered heart attack and died

Victim’s family criticise 3½-year sentence for two men as ‘lenient given the circumstances’

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who carried out a postmortem on Mr O’Donoghue, said his death “cannot be separated” from the burglary, despite her finding that he had significant coronary heart disease.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who carried out a postmortem on Mr O’Donoghue, said his death “cannot be separated” from the burglary, despite her finding that he had significant coronary heart disease.

 

The family of a bachelor who died of heart attack after he discovered two men ransacking his home have hit out at the 3½-year sentences imposed on the pair.

Michael Casey (33), of Clonlong, Southill, Limerick, and his cousin, David Casey (21), of Carragh Park, Coolock, Dublin 17, both pleaded guilty to carrying out three counts of burglary and one count of criminal damage, in the Doon/Cappamore area on August 27th 2015.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing at Limerick Circuit Court, judge Tom O’Donnell told the family of the late John O’Donoghue (62) that the court was “deeply conscious” of their loss.

“[The sentence] will not change the fact Mr O’Donoghue is no longer with us and it will not alleviate his family’s pain . . . The court must deal with the burglary charges, and those alone,” he said.

Afterwards, Mr O’Donoghue’s family called on the State to consider appealing the sentences, saying they were “lenient given the circumstances” and expressed disappointment that they were concurrent.

Judge O’Donnell said the crimes were “premeditated” and the men “deliberately targeted rural properties unlikely to have alarms”. However, he said “no one could have foreseen” Mr O’Donoghue’s death.

Postmortem

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who carried out a postmortem on Mr O’Donoghue, said his death “cannot be separated” from the burglary, despite her finding that he had significant coronary heart disease.

Both defendants ran from the house after Mr O’Donoghue collapsed to the ground, despite pleas from Mr O’Donoghue’s sister Christina asking them to help. “I didn’t care they were in the house . . . I just wanted somebody to help my John,” she told gardaí.

The pair, who had 60 previous convictions between them, were apprehended a short distance from the house by local gardaí . At the time of the offence David Casey was on bail twice, for burglary and for robbery.

Judge O’Donnell said the State acknowledged the men’s admissions of guilt were “pivotal” to the prosecution’s case. “There was no DNA, no forensics, no violence,” he said .

Both men wrote letters expressing “deep remorse” and “deep shock” at Mr O’Donoghue’s death. The court heard they had both led “dysfunctional lives”, and had addictions to drugs and alcohol. Neither defendant has any record of ever having been employed, the court previously heard.

Criminal damage

For the burglary at Mr O’Donoghue’s home the men were sentenced to four years and six months, with the final 12 months suspended for six years. They also received a concurrent two-year sentence on the remaining burglary charges. The court took into consideration the criminal damage offence.

Bothmen were at “high risk” of reoffending, probation reports found.

Both men were described as “model prisoners” having spent the past year in prison on remand. They are likely to complete their sentences in a little over a year with remission.

In a victim impact statement, Mr O’Donoghue’s niece Angela Denning said that in the aftermath: “We cleared up the mess, removed the broken items, arranged for a new door to be fitted...but unlike other people, we also had to await a post mortem and arrange a funeral.

“Because of this burglary uncle John had to be left lying in the yard covered in a polythene bag. ”

“In the space of a couple of minutes, all of our lives changed forever,” she said. “We lost a kind, clever, talented, and very witty man.”