Increased jail term sought for two involved in burglary where man died
John O’Donoghue collapsed and died in Doon as he was about to confront intruders
Michael Casey, Clonlong Halting Site, Limerick, had pleaded guilty to a series of burglaries, including one at the home of John O’Donoghue at Toomaline, Doon, on August 27th, 2015.
Increased prison sentences are being sought for two men involved in a burglary at the home of a 62-year-old Limerick man who collapsed and died as he was about to confront them.
Cousins Michael Casey (34), with an address at Clonlong Halting Site, Southill, in Limerick and David Casey (22), with an address at Carragh Park, Belcamp, Dublin 17, had pleaded guilty to a series of burglaries, including one at the home of John O’Donoghue at Toomaline, Doon, on August 27th, 2015.
Mr O’Donoghue collapsed and died as he was about to confront the two intruders, who ran away without offering assistance.
Judge Tom O’Donnell senenced both men at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court to four-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final year suspended on December 15th, 2016.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is seeking a review of the men’s sentences on grounds that they were “unduly lenient”. The three-judge Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.
Counsel for the DPP, Thomas O’Malley submitted on Thursday that the sentence was too low for the burglary of the O’Donoghue household when one considered the harm that was caused in that particular case.
Mr O’Malley said there was a second victim to consider — Mr O’Donoghue’s surviving sister — who had to watch her brother “drop dead in front of the family home” as he was about to confront the two intruders.
“Of course they didn’t for a moment intend to harm anybody,” Mr O’Malley said, but “they had to take their victim as they found him”.
He said offenders who engage in residential burglary must take account of the fact they might disturb somebody and that “this kind of thing can happen. Somebody could become ill or die as a result of the fright”
There was an “inherent risk” in burglary and there had to be a punishment that reflected that harm, he submitted.
He said David Casey was on bail at the time the burglaries were committed and the sentencing judge did not allude to that in his sentencing remarks.
Mr O’Malley said the sentencing judge failed to specify the headline sentence before making appropriate adjustments for any personal circumstances of the accused.
He said headline sentences function to send out a message, to censure the criminal conduct involved, and were important for general deterrence. This kind of repeated residential burglary was “conduct that is the cause of tremendous public concern at the present time”.
He said the offences were not committed impulsively or opportunistically but the Caseys had selected and targeted four different dwellings as part of a burglary “spree” on the same day.
Consecutive sentences would not have been unreasonable and if not, then the sentence for the most serious offence — involving the death of Mr O’Donoghue — should have been higher, Mr O’Malley submitted.
Counsel for David Casey, Michael Bowman SC, said what happened after the incident couldn’t aggravate the offence and there was no evidence the cousins deliberately walked past Mr O’Donoghue as he was having a “fit or a heart attack”.
Mr Bowman said David Casey was 20 at the time of the offence. He had his own “personal difficulties” and appeared to have progressed significantly while in custody.
Counsel for Michael Casey, Vincent Heneghan SC, said the final year of the sentences were suspended on condition both cousins be of good behaviour for six years from the date of sentence. That indicated that the Circuit Court judge had measured the gravity of the offences that were before him, he submitted.
Mr Heneghan said the Circuit Court judge did not hand sentence down “there and then” but adjourned the case to consider all aspects.