Dublin burglar attacks victim's neighbour with butt of sawn-off shotgun

Sawn-off shotgun (stock image)
Sawn-off shotgun (stock image)

A man who hijacked an elderly man's car after striking him in the face and knocking him to the ground also beat an elderly neighbour with the butt of a sawn-off shotgun when he came to the victim's assistance.

Anthony Kelly (79) had just pulled into his own driveway and was getting out of the vehicle to follow his wife into their home, when Sean Keenan (26) struck him from behind and demanded his car keys.

Garda Jason Reilly said Mr Kelly, who walked with the aid of a stick having recently suffered a stroke, had to roll out of the way to avoid getting struck with the car.  

Keenan took the victim's Mercedes Benz, almost reversing the vehicle over Mr Kelly before he hit the man's garden wall. 

Joseph Cooke, who came to help his neighbour, was also aged in his 70s. Keenan struck him a number of times in the head and body with what Gda Reilly said was "believed to be the butt of a sawn-off shotgun". Mr Cooke was later treated for a head wound.

Keenan got away and drove the wrong way down the Malahide Road heading towards Donnycarney before he ultimately abandoned the car in Ballymun after crashing it.

Keenan, of Dolmen Court, Poppintree, Dublin was sentenced to five-and-a-half years with the final two years suspended at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He pleaded guilty to robbery of a set of car keys, hijacking, endangerment, assault causing harm, production of the stock of a sawn-off shotgun, criminal damage and dangerous driving on December 8, 2015. He has 100 previous convictions, 11 of which have been dealt with in the Circuit Court.

Keenan was on bail at the time of the offence and has since been given a seven-year sentence with two years suspended from Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court. Judge Melanie Greally ordered that the sentence she imposed be consecutive to the sentence in the Dundalk case.

Judge Greally said Mr Cooke saw what was happening to Mr Kelly and very bravely came to his assistance before being beaten.

She noted from the victim impact reports that Mr Kelly now no longer felt safe in his own home and dreaded getting into his car in case the same thing may happen again. She described the effect on him as "life altering".

Judge Greally said Mr Cooke was also shaken and upset for a number of months after the assault.

She noted that Mr Kelly's car had been specially adapted to his needs and he was left without a car for a "long period of time".

Judge Greally accepted that Keenan was making the most of his time in prison and that his guilty pleas had saved the men the stress of having to give evidence at trial.

Gda Reilly told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that gardai received numerous reports of Keenan driving dangerously around the area. The vehicle, which had been valued at around €25,000, was later written off by the insurance company.

The hijacking incident was captured on CCTV. Keenan was nominated as a suspect and arrested. He made no admissions during his interviews with gardai.

Gda Reilly said a piece of the gun can be seeing flying off during the attack on Mr Cooke and a piece of wood, believed to be a shotgun stock, was later recovered from the garden. No firearm was ever recovered.

Mr Foley said the victims had prepared victim impact statements but they were not read out in court.

Gda Reilly confirmed that the Keenan's pleas of guilty were "a huge relief" to both men as they didn't have to give evidence at trial.

Damien Colgan SC, defending, said Keenan got addicted to cocaine from a young age which led to his criminal offending. His mother's recent death had a huge effect on him and he often spent the night at her graveside.