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Man viciously beat and robbed elderly farmer who was visiting Dublin

Philip Connolly
Philip Connolly
Railway Street
Railway Street

A man who took part in the violent robbery of a 67-year-old Waterford farmer who was visiting the capital has avoided a jail sentence.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring ordered the accused Philip Connolly to look at a photograph of the victim’s facial injuries and “observe his handiwork”. She asked him how he would feel if something similar happened to his grandfather.

The judge also observed that Connolly is now in a rehabilitation programme which involves working on a farm while his victim, David Feeney, can no longer work his land as a result of the assault.

Connolly (39) of North Richmond Street Flats, Dublin appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court with his co-accused Leigh O’Connell (28) of Upper Camden Street after both pleaded guilty to robbery of Mr Feeney on Railway Street in Dublin city centre on May 14, 2013.

O’Connell, who has 100 previous convictions including 16 for robbery and assault, was previously sentenced to four years with the final two and a half years suspended on condition he continues addressing his drug problems.

Dealing with Connolly today Judge Ring suspended a two and a half year prison sentence for 18 months on condition he keeps the peace for that period.

She said she was taking into consideration his very early plea of guilty and the work he has done since the offence to deal with his drug addiction problems.

Judge Ring noted his difficult upbringing and life on the streets but said there are many people in similar situations who do not commit such offences.

Connolly, who is originally from Athlone, Co Westmeath, has eleven previous convictions for minor offences.

Garda John Saunderson told prosecuting counsel Garnet Orange BL that Mr Feeney, from Ballyduff, Co. Waterford, was visiting Dublin on business and had checked into a guest house on Gardiner Street before going out for a meal and a few pints.

He had left a pub after listening to some traditional music and was trying to locate his guesthouse when three men attacked him from behind.

O’Connell grabbed the farmer in a headlock and dragged him onto a side-street. He then held him on the ground while Connolly and another man assaulted him. The three men then fled after taking Mr Feeney’s money, phone and driver’s licence.

The entire incident was caught on CCTV footage and the men were easily identified.

Judge Ring noted that it was clear from the photograph in the book of evidence that Mr Feeney was an elderly man and that this would also have been clear to his attackers.

Mr Feeney has physically recovered but continues to suffer other consequences including loss of confidence. His son has since taken over the running of the farm.

Counsel for Connolly, Luigi Rea BL, said his client was an addict at the time and was on the formerly legal “snow blow” head shop drug. He said he was distressed at the time because he was not allowed access to his children.

Mr Rea added his client is now in a strict, religious based drug treatment programme and is clean of alcohol and drugs.

O’Connell’s counsel, Sandra Frayne BL, said her client was also a drug addict but is now addressing this while in custody. She said he is a man who had once shown great potential but has been failed by Sate services.

She added that O’Connell now wants to turn his life around and try to help himself and others.