A Circuit Court judge has praised the fortitude of five young victims of two ‘terrifying’ burglaries in Sligo town in January of last year.
During one of the incidents, at Glencarrig, two men wearing latex gloves entered and threatened the four occupants with blades, and said they would be killed if they called the gardai.
However, Judge Francis Comerford, sitting at Sligo Circuit Criminal Court this afternoon, commended the victims for going to the gardai and giving evidence at subsequent bail hearings, despite ‘extreme violence’ and threats against them.
Before the court this afternoon was 25 years old John McDonagh, of Brookefield, Ballinode, and 18 years old Kailem Sweeney, of Garavogue Villas, Sligo.
McDonagh appeared by video link from Castlerea Prison. Sweeney was present in court.
Both had earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, making a threat to kill, damage to the house in Glencarrig, in Ballinode, and damage to a car.
McDonagh had also pleaded guilty to burglary at a house at Brookefield on the same date, the unauthorised taking of a car and threatening to kill a man there.
The court previously heard how the two entered the house at Glencarrig in the early hours of January 2020, where there were four people.
Both men were wielding blades, used them against property in the house and brandished and pointed them, threatening people in the house. A woman in the house was knocked to the ground.
In a victim impact statement, the woman said she won’t ever forget what happened and will always feel fear.
A threat was issued that if the people in the house reported the incident to the gardai, they would be killed. One man awoke with a knife to his throat and cash from his wallet was taken.
The Judge said it was a chaotic, almost opportunistic attack, brazen almost to the point of irrational, to get enough money for drugs.
Keys were taken for a car that was driven around the estate in a wild manner and damaged, primarily by McDonagh.
The court heard McDonagh had 24 convictions before this incident. He was in custody since 19th January, having never been in custody before that.
The court also heard of the second incident involving McDonagh on the same date when he entered the house at Brookefield, where a man he knew was a tenant. McDonagh took a 32-inch TV, a playstation and a games consul, valued at about €1,500.
McDonagh also threatened the man there that if he called the gardai, he would be killed.
For the two burglary offences at Glencarrig, McDonagh was sentenced to two sentences of five and a half years in prison, with the last two years suspended.
A sentence of three-and a half years was imposed for the burglary at Brookefield.
All the sentences are to run concurrently, and are backdated to January 19th 2020, when he went into custody.
The court heard Sweeney, a brother-in-law of McDonagh, had no previous convictions and was 17 when these offences occurred.
Judge Comerford said he would impose a sentence of four years on Sweeney but the Judge suspended the sentence and adjourned the case against Sweeney until November to allow him be placed under the Probation Service, with urine analysis to be undertaken every three weeks.
Concluding the two-hour sentencing hearing, Judge Comerford said he was not for a moment forgetting the five victims, the three men and woman in Glencarrig, and the man in Brookefield.
They showed fortitude, he said, in how they dealt with the cases.