NewsCrime Desk

"They threatened to chop his feet off unless money was handed over"

Jailed: Thomas Flynn (left) and Dean Byrne (right)
Jailed: Thomas Flynn (left) and Dean Byrne (right)

A family solicitor has described in detail the harrowing ordeal a Tipperary family were subjected to during a home invasion.

The seven members of the gang who threatened to murder children during a terrifying home invasion in Tipperary have today been sentenced to 72 years in total.

The gang, led by Coolock man John Joyce, smashed their way into a Tipperary home in November 2013 and terrorised a family, warning that they would shoot the couple’s three kids if they didn’t hand over cash.

Their family solicitor described arriving at the home following the horrific ordeal. 

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Liveline, the family's solicitor Kieran Cleary said he will 'never forget the fear in the young children's faces'.

"Myself and my son, who is a solicitor, went over in the morning and it was like the Holocaust," he said.

"I've never seen anything like it in a home, the fear there, the fear on the children, they were frozen with it.

"It was frightening, they were terrified, they couldn't speak or let go of their mother. If their father went to the kitchen they were terrified. It was horrific.

"They came through the door and the window of this lovely country bungalow. Mrs Corcoran is a petite lady and her husband isn't a big man.

"They were roaring, shouting, banging drawers and kicking doors.

"It was like they had been attacked by an army. The doors were smashed, the window was smashed, furniture was hammered with hatchets, I can't even describe it," he continued.

"It was just horrific. But it was the fear on the children, I'll never forget that, as a parent and a grandparent.

"It's incredible that you could frighten a two-year-old like that." 

Mr Cleary described the terrifying ordeal Mark and Emma suffered as their three children watched in horror.

"They attacked the husband with the butt of a gun, splitting his eye in front of the children. He was knocked unconscious," he said, speaking after the sentences were handed down this afternoon.

"They threatened to chop his feet off unless this money was handed over, money they didn't have.

"Mark has had four major operations on his eye since, he couldn't work for years.

"He couldn't drive, their business is gone. Emma can't leave the house without her children, she can't go to the toilet or shopping without it being a nightmare.

"They've had medical issues about it.

He continued: "This is a bungalow with three small babies and a young couple.

"And fortunately Emma had the phone beside her in bed and she rang 999, she only had seconds to do it.

"She put the phone under the bed and the response people alerted gardai, otherwise they wouldn't be here today no doubt."

"Emma was attacked by one of the criminals, who knew she would have had a phone on her. She said she didn't have a phone. She wouldn't have been able to do that only she had the phone right next to her.

"I don't know why they chose that house. They got some information from somebody, the Corcorans are in the business of renting out gym equipment to houses, they wouldn't have had cash on them in the house. I don't know who got the information or why, but they had the wrong house."

The Sunday World can reveal the gang was also responsible for numerous other cowardly home invasions as well as gun and pipe bomb attacks.

Before their arrest for the Corcoran robbery, the gang had been terrorising families and small business owners across the country during rampages in stolen cars.

In the months before the Tipperary break-in, the same gang was suspected of being behind two other violent robberies in nearby Littleton.

The Sunday World can reveal members of his gang were suspected of carrying out several gun attacks on homes in the Coolock area of north Dublin last year while he was out on bail.

The gang had been on the radar for years and intelligence suggested that they got more of a kick out of terrorising innocent victims than from the rewards of their crimes – which averaged from €1,000 to no more than €20,000 at a time