Two men who violently resisted arrest when they were caught red-handed by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) as they attempted to carry out a targeted robbery of a house in Bandon, Co Cork have been jailed.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Larry O’Connor of An Duiche, Scahelene in Tipperary town and Patrick Harty of Mountain View, Bansha Road in Tipperary arrived at the scene of the burglary in Bandon on January 21st of this year in an Audi A3 car with cloned registration plates. The men believed that the house contained a large amount of cash.
Inspector Andrew Lyons said that gardaí had become concerned following a number in burglaries in Munster in January of this year.
An operation was put in place and Mr O’Connor and Mr Harty and three associates, two of whom were juveniles, arrived in Bandon having made the journey from Cashel in a high-powered vehicle. The men had been captured on CCTV in Cashel putting fuel in the vehicle.
On their way from Cashel to Cork they stopped and put false plates on the vehicle. The men were captured on CCTV driving up and down the street for 40 minutes before they broke in to the unoccupied house at 4.50pm on January 21st last.
Patrick Harty (27) and Larry O’Connor (32) and a juvenile broke a lock to get into the house. Inspector Lyons said when the ERU went to the house O’Connor ran out the front door holding a crowbar. He collided with a garda and dragged him down three steps before he was restrained.
Inspector Lyons said that O’Connor is married with two children and abuses alcohol and drugs. He stated that O’Connor, who has 85 previous convictions, has been engaged in serious criminal activity.
O’Connor was on bail at the time of the alleged offence in relation to an aggravated burglary in Newcastle, Co Limerick for which he subsequently received a 12-year prison sentence.
Inspector Lyons said Patrick Harty tried to get away from gardaí via a back window. He also violently resisted arrest.
The Audi car was seized and searched. A litre bottle of Dettol was found which gardai believe was due to be used to forensically clean the house of evidence before the men left having ransacked the property. Gloves, a screw driver and the original registration plate were also recovered. Gardaí believe the car was purchased for the sole purpose of committing crime.
The men were wearing snoods and gloves when they were arrested.
Mr Harty was on bail on road traffic offences at the time of the offence. The married father of three has 25 previous convictions four of which are for burglary.
Inspector Lyons said that the men had been stopped from ransacking the property.
“It was a targeted burglary. Not random or opportunistic.”
Ray Boland, SC, defence barrister for Larry O’Connor, said that his client was “genuinely remorseful” for his actions. He stated that as his client is in custody for another offence until 2029, and a second sentence would be “the equivalent of a life sentence”.
The court heard that Harty has no employment history. His barrister Jane Hyland, SC, said that her client suffers from anxiety and depression. Both men have collected compensation of €150 to cover the cost of the broken lock.
The homeowner has the option of taking the funds or donating it to charity.
Judge Helen Boyle said that it was a serious offence which merited custodial sentences. She jailed Larry O’Connor for four years with the last six months suspended. This will run consecutively to a 12-year sentence he is serving for an unrelated offence. She jailed Harty for four years with the final year suspended.
Both men had pleaded guilty to burglary and possession of articles whilst Mr Harty also entered a plea to a charge of criminal damage.