Heroin addict who targeted home of mentally disabled man has sentence increased

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Moran's sentence on grounds that it was unduly lenient
The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Moran's sentence on grounds that it was unduly lenient

A heroin addict who was bailed for a series of crimes before committing three aggravated burglaries at the home of a mentally disabled person has nominally been given an extra two years in jail.

Robert Moran (26), with an address at Johnsgate Village, Limerick, had pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court to aggravated burglary and related offences at the home of a mentally disabled man in Limerick carried out on three occasions between May and June 2010.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Mr Justice Carroll Moran on May 19 2011.

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Moran's sentence on grounds that it was unduly lenient and the Court of Appeal imposed a new sentence on him of seven years imprisonment with the final four suspended.

The matter came before the court today in a “less than desirable” fashion, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said. In 2011, the DPP had sought a review of Moran's sentence which was completed in 2013.

Speaking of behalf of the three-judge court Mr Justice Sheehan said Moran, in February 2009, was lookout while an accomplice entered an off-license in Limerick armed with a kitchen knife and threatened staff members before taking €480.

Moran was charged with this offence and released on bail.

On January 19 2010, Moran carried out the robbery of a petrol station in Limerick while armed with a hunting knife. He approached a male member of staff from behind, placed the hunting knife at his throat and demanded the till's contents.

The shop's panic alarm was pressed, a struggle ensued and the male staff member received a six-inch cut to his neck.

Moran ran towards the till, lunged at a female member of staff, leaned over the counter, opened the till and he succeeded in escaping with €1,060. He was arrested, charged and released on bail.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the victim of the aggravated burglaries suffered from a mental disability, was 44 years old at the time and lived in a house owned by the St Vincent de Paul.

At around 3.30pm on May 7, 2010, Moran broke a bedroom window, entered the house and produced a knife with which the injured party was threatened.

The injured party was not hurt but fearful for his safety and Moran stole €1,500 on this occasion.

At around 7.30pm on May 22, 2010, Moran and two other intruders broke a back bedroom window and entered the house armed with sticks. The injured party had his front door locked and managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Moran was charged with these two offences on June 4 2010 and released on bail.

At around 5.20pm on June 13, 2010, Moran and two or three others entered the house of the mentally disabled man again through a window which they had broken with a rock.

The injured party attempted to escape through the front door but one of the intruders was waiting there to prevent his escape. He was attacked and received three or four punches from the intruders, who stole €150 and the keys of his house.

Moran subsequently admitted that he had planned the final offence in the knowledge that the injured party was vulnerable.

The injured party was obliged to leave his home as he did not feel safe and was re-housed in another location by the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

The Court of Appeal held that the sentences imposed on Moran were unduly lenient.

Notwithstanding the care taken by the sentencing judge, Mr Justice Sheehan said, the sentences imposed on Moran represented a substantial departure from what would be considered appropriate sentences in all the circumstances of the case.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, substituted the sentence of five years with two suspended for a sentence of seven years with four suspended.

Ruaidhrí Giblin