Kilkenny man loses appeal for stable burglary where mare was in foal

He was 'caught red-handed' and held by the horse owner until gardaí arrived


Court of Appeal

A Kilkenny man has lost his appeal against his sentence for the burglary of stables, in which a mare was in foal and her owner was lying on a couch.

When horse owner Miguel Gunn caught Owen Kirwan ‘red-handed’ in his tack room, Kirwan threatened that ‘20 lads’ would ‘burn you out of it’ if he didn’t let him go.

Kirwan (27), with a former address at De La Salle Place in Kilkenny had pleaded guilty to burglary and threat to damage property at Mr Gunn’s stables outside Mullinahone in Tipperary.

He and two others had entered the stables, which were beside the Gunn family home. Mr Gunn was lying down on a couch in a tack room, where he had a mare in foal. One of the other men entered the room and shouted: “Jesus lads, there’s loads of bits in here.”

This man ran out on seeing Mr Gunn, who followed the three culprits, two of whom escaped. Mr Gunn caught Kirwan and dragged him back into the room before ringing his wife to call the Gardaí.

Kirwan told Mr Gunn that ‘the easiest way is to let me off or 20 lads will be back here to burn you out’. Mr Gunn was holding a pitchfork for self defence, and Kirwan told him that he would stick a pitch fork into him. He lunged for the fork but didn’t get it.

Kirwan then sat down with Mr Gunn and waited around 20 minutes for the Gardaí to arrive. He admitted his offences after a voicemail recording of the encounter was played to him. He later apologised, assuring the Gunns that there would be no retaliation

Judge Tom Teehan sentenced him at Clonmel Circuit Court last year. He imposed a total of seven years in prison, with two and a half years suspended.

Kirwan appealed the severity of this sentence to the Court of Appeal today (Monday).

His barrister, Sarah-Jane Comerford BL, submitted that it was disproportionate to the normal range of sentences for similar offences, and had inadequate regard for the mitigating factors.

Cephas Power BL opposed the application on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

He said that ‘seven years was completely within his range’. He cited the aggravating factors, including that more than one person was involved, the crime was carried out in a rural area, close to the family home and was committed while Kirwan was on bail.

Justice Patrick McCarthy, sitting with Court President George Birmingham and Justice Isobel Kennedy, refused Kirwan’s application.

“We think he took into account all relevant aggravating and mitigating factors,” he said.

“The reduction was generous as the appellant was caught red-handed,” he added, referring to the suspended portion of the sentence.

They dismissed the appeal.

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