NewsCrime Desk

We unmask vicious gang of thieves responsible for spate of robberies

We unmask vicious gang of thieves responsible for spate of robberies

Here we unmask Ireland’s most brutal home invasion gang, who are responsible for a reign of terror around the country.

Seven members of the gang, led by Coolock man John Joyce, are facing lengthy sentences after pleading guilty to a horrific aggravated burglary where they smashed their way into a Tipperary home and terrorised a family, warning that they would shoot the couple’s three kids if they didn’t hand over cash.

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

Dubliners Dean Byrne (22), from Cabra Park, Cabra, and Patrick Gately (27), from Primrose Grove, Darndale, pleaded guilty to the aggravated burglary at the home of Emma and Mark Corcoran in Tipperary.

Byrne and Gately changed their pleas to guilty just as the trial was due to get underway this month.

Brave Emma called 999 as the raiders smashed the sitting room window of her home in November 2013. Her husband Mark went to investigate as their three daughters – then aged eight, six and three – slept in the next room.

Gardai said the screams of the young daughters could be heard on the 999 call, along with one of the thugs saying: “I’ll shoot the kids”.

Mark Corcoran was viciously assaulted in front of his family during the incident and suffered severe injuries, while the heartless gang threatened the entire family.

One of the terrified children shouted “daddy is dead”, after he was knocked with the butt of a gun in the head, leaving a pool of blood on the floor.

Five other men involved in the raid had already pleaded guilty in relation to the terrifying incident, including gang leader John Joyce (20), from Lentisk Lawn, Moatview, Coolock.

Joyce is well-known to gardai despite his young age and has a number of convictions for a variety of offences.

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.

Joyce’s brother Patrick (22), was among those who plead guilty over the Tipperary incident. He moved from Moatview to Beaumont Woods in recent years after threats were made against him.

Michael McDonagh (23), from Tara Lawns, Coolock, is known to gardai for a number of violent incidents, including attacking a taxi driver.

The others convicted are Donal O’Hara (22), from Glen Park and Thomas Flynn (20), of Moatview Avenue, Coolock.

The vicious gang: (top from left) John Joyce, Dean Byrne, Patrick Gately, (bottom from left) Patrick Joyce, Donal O'Hara, Michael McDonagh. (Main pic) Thomas Flynn

The seven admitted entering the Corcoran home on November 21, 2013, at Burnchurch, Killenaule, Co. Tipperary, on November 21, 2013, with intent to commit a theft while in possession of a shotgun, handgun, and machete.

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 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

Associates of Joyce are also suspected of being involved in a pipe bomb manufacturing business and one gang member accidentally blew one of his fingers off while making a deadly device.

Joyce was suspected of being behind a campaign of violence in north Dublin early last year while on bail for the Tipperary robbery.

A source said: “His crew shot up three houses and he was throwing his considerable weight around when he was out on bail.

“He was demanding money from everyone who owed it to him because he knew he was going away for a long time. He should never have been given bail in the first place.”

Joyce had been involved in a number of disputes and an associate of his was shot in north Dublin in 2013, but survived the attack. Another pal, also unconnected to the Tipperary raid, was shot in the ankle the following week.

Gately will have almost 80 convictions when he is sentenced in November.

He was previously banned from every pub in Dublin for six months and jailed for one month over an incident so violent he had to be pepper sprayed by gardai.

Officers had been carrying out a drugs raid at a property on Templeview Avenue, Clarehall, Donaghmede, north Dublin, and when they left the building Gately was waiting outside with a number of other people.

Dublin District Court heard Gately tried to “rile-up” the crowd and that a “volatile situation” was developing. Gardai told him to leave, but he refused. He then made obscene sexual reference to the garda’s wife, and as he approached his car he said: “I  hope you crash and get brain damage, you c***”.

When he refused to leave the area he was arrested and became so violent he had to be pepper sprayed.

The court heard he had a serious problem with cocaine and tablets, but had never sought treatment. His lawyer said after his parents died in 2011, “things spiralled out of control” for him.

Judge Tom Teehan remanded Byrne and Gately in custody until November for sentencing over the Tipperary raid. 

It is understood all seven men will be sentenced that day.