Two men jailed for violent theft of mobile phone in Limerick

Gang rapist and killer sentenced to four years each for robbery


A convicted gang rapist has been jailed for 3½ years for his role in what a judge described as a violent robbery committed by violent offenders.

Limerick criminal Thomas O’Neill, who is the partner of former State witness April Collins, was jailed at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday.

O’Neill (25) pleaded guilty along with convicted killer Michael Hayes (34), Galvone Road, Kennedy Park, to bungling a man down a Limerick city laneway and robbing him of a mobile phone and some change shortly before 11pm on March 30th last. The man, although not physically hurt during the ordeal, was described as being “frozen in fear”.

Both men were apprehended a short distance from the scene but were described as being “unco-operative” after arrest.

However, they both pleaded guilty to the charges of robbery and false imprisonment at the earliest possible opportunity, the court heard.

Outlining the previous convictions of both men, John O’Sullivan, prosecuting, told the court that Hayes was convicted of manslaughter in January 2005.

He also has previous convictions for larceny, burglary, possession of knives, assault and criminal damage.

O’Neill was sentenced to 10 years for a notorious and brutal gang rape of a woman in Cratloe Woods in 2005. He also has previous convictions for assaults, threats to cause criminal damage, false imprisonment, intimidation and burglary.

Violent offenders
Judge Moran said it was a violent robbery committed by two violent offenders but he did accept that the pleas of guilty were entered at the earliest possible opportunity.

Imposing a four-year prison term on each man, Judge Moran said it must have been “a very traumatic experience for the injured party”. He added that the two had very bad records with previous convictions for serious offences.

Judge Moran activated the 18-month suspended prison that O’Neill had in relation to a threat to burn down the home of the sister of EuroMillions winner Dolores McNamara.

He ordered that two years of the four-year sentence imposed for the robbery charge be suspended for six years. He also ordered that it be served consecutively to the 18-month sentence.

Two of the four-year sentence given to Hayes was also suspended, but for four years.

Ms Collins, dressed in white shiny leggings, black patent boots and black faux fur sleeveless jacket, was accompanied by members of O’Neill’s family who looked on from the gallery during the sentencing.