Men who put family through ‘terrifying ordeal’ appeal against sentences

Five men got up to 20 years for aggravated burglary of Corcoran home in Co Tipperary

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Delaney SC, said it was difficult to find a case of aggravated burglary of comparable gravity. File photograph: Collins Courts

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Delaney SC, said it was difficult to find a case of aggravated burglary of comparable gravity. File photograph: Collins Courts

 

A number of men who received sentences of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for an aggravated burglary in Co Tipperary have moved to appeal the severity of their sentences.

Dublin residents Patrick Gately (29), with an address at Primrose Grove, Darndale; Dean Byrne (23), of Cabra Park; John Joyce (22), Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede, Patrick Joyce (24), of Beaumont Hall, Beaumont Woods and Thomas Flynn (22), of Moatview Avenue, Coolock, were among seven men who pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at the home of the Corcoran family in south Tipperary on November 21st, 2013.

Sentences of 20 years’ imprisonment with the final four suspended were given to Gately and Byrne; John Joyce was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment with the final four suspended; Patrick Joyce was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment with the final four suspended and Thomas Flynn received a 12-year sentence made consecutive to a sentence already being served.

The men were sentenced by Judge Thomas Teehan at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court on October 1st, 2015.

All five men brought appeals against the severity of their sentences in the Court of Appeal on Thursday where the three-judge court reserved judgment.

Counsel for Gately, Vincent Heneghan SC, said it could be inferred that the Circuit Court judge picked 12 years as the starting point for what occurred in the house. That being so, he seemed to attach a great deal of weight to the reckless driving or “hot pursuit”, which Byrne and Gately were involved in subsequently.

Mr Heneghan said nobody could find a comparable case of aggravated burglary but in manslaughter cases, for example, he said 20 years would be out of line.

He said his client’s childhood and adolescence had been chaotic, there was an early plea and an expression of remorse.

Conor Devally SC, said the sentencing judge differentiated between the parties in a way that was difficult for the Court of Appeal to determine.

Counsel for Patrick Joyce, Colman Cody SC, said all five men were equally culpable for what happened in the house but different headline sentences were imposed.

Mr Cody submitted that the Circuit Court judge erred in placing the offence in the highest category to which Mr Justice George Birmingham said he could only react with surprise given the “appalling” nature of the offence.

Aggravating factors

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Delaney SC, said it was difficult to find a case of aggravated burglary of comparable gravity.

Among the aggravating factors were the machete, the firearms, the restraint with cable ties, the threats to kill the children, the threats to shove a screwdriver up the nose of Mr Corcoran.

There was the serious assault on Mr Corcoran, the injuries of which, continue to affect him. Three very young children were subjected to a terrifying ordeal. There were at least six raiders who entered the home which must have added to the fear and apprehension of the Corcorans particularly the children.

But the the most significant aggravating factor, Mr Delaney said, was the effect on each of the five members of the Corcoran family.

It was a “catalogue of horrors”, before they left the house, Mr Justice John Edwards remarked.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the court would reserve judgment.