Dublin man who threatened to behead garda while escaping after burglary loses appeal

Christopher Dunne leaving court in 2013
Christopher Dunne leaving court in 2013

A “recidivist” criminal who threatened to behead a garda while making good his escape from the scene of a burglary has lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence.

Christpher Dunne (29), of Kilcronan Court, Clondalkin, had pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at Naas Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Old Chapel Wood, Naas, Co Kildare on March 15, 2011.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment, with the final 12 months suspended on July 25, 2014.

Dunne lost an appeal against the severity of his sentence today with the Court of Appeal holding that his sentence was “proportionate and just”.

Giving judgement in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said gardai were alerted to an ongoing burglary in a cul de sac on the night in question. Two men were seen alighting from a silver car with torches making their way to the side passage of a house.

On arrival at the scene, a garda observed that Dunne had a baseball bat which he swung violently at the garda. Dunne threatened to behead the garda while making good his escape, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

Counsel for Dunne, Derek Cooney BL, submitted that the sentence was excessive in all the circumstances and that the sentencing judge departed from best practice in faling to identify a starting point for the sentence.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the court could not agree.

Dunne had 125 previous convictions at the date of sentencing and 97 which pre-dated the present offence. He was the father of three young children and was addicted to heroin at the time.

It was noted that he had attended various rehabilitation courses and intended to participate in future programmes, the judge said.

The sentencing judge had described the offence as an “egregious burglary” involving baseball bats, screw drivers and vice grips. He had said this “marauding type of offence” caused great anxiety to citizens and had called Dunne and his co-accused “recidivist criminals”.

Mr Justice Sheehan said the maximum sentence for burglary was 14 years imprisonment - “a fact well known to the sentencing judge”.

It was clear from the sentencing judges remarks, Mr Justice Sheehan said, that he considered Dunne's personal circumstances and gave these sufficient weight.

The judge sought to incentivise Dunne's rehabilitation by suspending the final year, he added.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the appeal.

Ruaidhri Giblin