Eight-year sentence for aggravated burglary

A RECOVERING heroin addict who broke into the home of a pensioner and was present when he was tied up, doused in petrol and had his face slashed was sentenced to eight years behind bars at Kilkenny Circuit Court.

A RECOVERING heroin addict who broke into the home of a pensioner and was present when he was tied up, doused in petrol and had his face slashed was sentenced to eight years behind bars at Kilkenny Circuit Court.

Rory Gahan, Tinnahinch, Graignamanagh pleaded guilty to the offence which took place at a remote house at Clonhestia, Graignamanagh on January 9, 2011. Garda Finbar O’Donovan told the court on the date in question the injured party heard noises at his door at 1.30am shouting ‘gardai open up’. “He opened the door and two males pushed him back and demanded money. They broke a TV with a hatchet and stole cash and medication. A co-accused then took a bottle of white spirits and started a fire which spread to the carpet and Rory Gahan put out with his jumper.

A phone and charger was also stolen and the defendant demanded more medication. One of the raiders smashed up a vermin unit and the two televisions in the house with a hatchet. The co-accused tied up the injured party and spilled white spirits on him saying that he was doing so to get rid of DNA. Gahan then pointed out to the co-accused, who is still before the courts, that the binds were too loose and the co-accused took them off and tied up the injured party again. The co-accused then demanded petrol and went outside got it and poured it over the injured party and then slashed his face from his left eye to his mouth with a knife.

One of the raiders asked the injured party how long it would be before someone would call to the house and the injured party replied a week. Then the defendant asked him for a number of a friend which was given to him. Gahan and the co-accused left the house at 2.30am and stole two sets of keys to the house, which has no electricity and a torch. The injured man managed to free himself and put a plaster on his face and at 8am when it was bright he went to a neighbours house where assistance was rendered to him and the incident was reported to gardai.

The defendant was subsequently arrested and interviewed six times. Both men were heroin addicts at the time and were looking for morphine-based drugs. The court heard that the defendant ‘regrets his actions and is ashamed’.

Three televisions were smashed during the raid, €160 euros in cash was stolen along with keys and medication. To date no compensation has been paid to the injured party, who received 12 sutures and was left with a permanent scar. It was six weeks before the injured party, who is 66 years of age moved back to his home and he has difficulty sleeping following the attack. “His wellbeing has deteriorated, he won’t answer the door to cold callers and he is constantly living in feat. He has barriers outside his door and has installed CCTV. The injured party is very upset that both men knew him well,” added Garda O’Donovan.

The court heard that the defendant has 13 previous convictions including having drugs in his possession for sale or supply, burglary, theft and the production of an article during the course of a dispute. Gahan, who comes from a decent and hardworking family has a heroin addiction dating back six years. He is currently on a methadone programme.

A medical report was handed into the court which outlined that the defendant was diagnosed with learning difficulties, Tourette Syndrome and ADHD. He has been on a methodone programme since November 2011 and has remained opiate free and had moved back to the family home.

His family Michael Gahan told the court that his son had been sleeping rough in ‘woods and various places for five years’. “When he started to come off the heroin he was allowed back home. I think it is going very well. It is the best that I have seen him. He seems to be more at peace with himself,” he said adding that all he cared about was seeing his soon continue to progress.

Judge Tom Teehan told the court that the defendant had arrived in the dead of night and terrorised the injured party. He was present when violence was inflicted and when the injured party was tied up and white spirits and petrol were poured on him.

“We heard that the raiders had no intention of setting fire to the injured party but that must have gone through his mind during this terrifying ordeal. Weapons were brought and used on him and his property and almost two years on no monies have been paid to the injured party.

“I have little doubt that the people of Graignamanagh and far beyond were outraged by the ordeal of the injured party. I accept that Gahan is one of two persons involved and was involved on a lesser scale and would be easily led. He has suffered from that and I am mindful of that and he has made some considerable efforts to improve his lot. This kind of treatment of a defenceless man in his own home in the dead of night cannot go without severe punishment.”

Judge Teehan imposed an eight-year sentence. He suspended the final three years on condition that the defendant enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years and remain entirely drug free.