welfare madness | 

Infamous burglary gang member gets disability benefit for lactose intolerance, court told

A judge has stated that it is “extraordinary” Edward Woodland is receiving the social welfare payment

Edward Woodland

Gordon DeeganSunday World

A judge has described as “extraordinary” the State paying disability benefit for a Limerick burglary gang member as he is lactose intolerant.

Speaking at Ennis Circuit Court after hearing that Edward Woodland was receiving disability benefit for his lactose intolerance, Judge Eoin Garavan said: “I am sure that the taxpayer will be delighted to know that Department of Social Welfare pays disability benefit for lactose intolerance”.

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.

Judge Garavan said: “The less said about this the better but it seems to be an extraordinary reason for obtaining social protection disability payment.”

He made his comments as he sentenced Woodland (23) and three accomplices for the burglary of an isolated farmhouse at Ballyveskill, Tiermaclane, Co Clare, on January 5, 2018. All four pleaded guilty to burglary and on the date.

Three of the burglars, father and son, Patrick (48) and Edward Woodland along with Paul Kiely (35) fled from the farmhouse after discovering that the sole occupant, James (Jimmy) O’Connor (97), was asleep in bed.

At around 3.30pm the raiders kicked in the door of the house and broke a lock before ransacking the property looking for cash. They then discovered Mr O’Connor's presence.

All three were caught "red handed” by gardaí as they tried to escape through fields around Mr O’Connor’s home.

Nothing was taken in the burglary and Judge Garavan said no threat of violence or violence was used.

As part of the planned burglary, one member of the gang, John Woodland (43), a brother to Patrick and uncle to Edward, lured Mr O’Connor’s son, Vincent, away from his home to a nearby field on the pretence of buying silage as part of “a clever decoy”.

John Woodland had first contacted Vincent O’Connor concerning purchasing silage at the start of December 2017.

Imposing sentence, Judge Garavan said the burglary offence carried out by the gang “is of intense social concern” and there must be a deterrent.

He said such offences “terrify people in rural areas where there is little protection against this and who do not have gardaí on their doorstep”.

He said the “absolute fear and trauma to the victims that can be occasioned” by such offences in rural areas cannot be overstated.

Judge Garavan said that the offence was premeditated and carefully thought out and gardaí were on the scene as they knew that a burglary was going to take place as a result of intelligence received.

He said the three raiders displayed “humanity in the midst of a serious crime” when they decided to flee from the house after discovering there was an elderly man asleep in the home at the time.

Judge Garavan said that it would have been very traumatic for Vincent O’Connor returning to his home on the afternoon and not knowing if his father had been interfered with or tied up.

James O’Connor died peacefully at home in March 2018 and his death was not related to the January burglary where his sleep was undisturbed.

In sentencing, Judge Garavan imposed a five-year prison term on Patrick Woodland of Greenmount Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick, a five-year prison term with the final year suspended on Edward Woodland with the same address, a five-year prison term on John Woodland of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Avenue, Limerick, with the final two years suspended and three and a half years on Paul Kiely Glencairn, Dooradadoyle, Limerick with the final one and a half years suspended.

Det Garda Brendan Rouine told the court that Patrick Woodland and John Woodland were each jailed for three years in 2012 for a similar type burglary committed in Galway in 2011.

He said Vincent O’Connor has now enhanced security features at his home.

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