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vicious attack Infamous gang figure who stabbed dad in front of kids has sentence reduced on appeal

Eddie O’Loughlin, who has 35 previous convictions including for assault and aggravated burglary, subsequently launched appeals against both his conviction and the severity of sentence.

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Eddie O'Loughlin

Eddie O'Loughlin

Eddie O'Loughlin

A knife-wielding burglar who broke into a family home and repeatedly stabbed a father-of-three as his children were getting ready for school has had his jail term reduced on appeal. 

Eddie O’Loughlin stormed into the property at 8am, armed with a large kitchen knife, and stabbed Jonathan King in front of his daughters, aged four, 11 and 17.

O’Loughlin (38) proceeded to “swipe” the weapon in the face of the teenage girl as she tried to drag her father to safety, before turning to the children’s mother, Adrienne Keary, and placing his finger on his lips – an act prosecutors said was designed to intimidate Ms Keary into silence.

When arrested hours later, O’Loughlin’s clothing was stained with his victim’s blood, the Court of Appeal was told today.

O’Loughlin, formerly of Finbar’s Terrace, Bohermore, Co Galway, but now a prisoner at Mountjoy Prison, admitted at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to one count of aggravated burglary following the incident at An Sean Bhaile, Doughiska, Galway, on June 20, 2016.

He had originally denied the charge but changed his plea to guilty after the jury heard evidence from Ms Keary, who was Mr King’s former partner, at the start of the February 2018 trial.

O’Loughlin later filed a motion seeking to vacate his guilty plea but the application was rejected by Judge Rory McCabe, who sentenced the defendant to 10-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in January 2020.

O’Loughlin, who has 35 previous convictions including for assault and aggravated burglary, subsequently launched appeals against both his conviction and the severity of sentence.

Patrick McCarthy BL, for O’Loughlin, told the Court of Appeal that Mr King later swore in an affidavit that he hadn’t been attacked by his client.

Mr McCarthy added that there was nothing to suggest the affidavit, which he said was made without O’Loughlin’s knowledge, had been sworn “under any threats, coercion or duress”.

Counsel said that Judge McCabe had failed to consider Mr King’s affidavit and, as a result, had erred by refusing the change of plea request.

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Mr McCarthy also told the three-judge court that the sentence imposed on his client had been “excessive and oppressive” and the judge had failed to take into account his client’s personal circumstances.

O’Loughlin, Mr McCarthy said, had been abusing benzodiazepines during the months leading up to his trial and had taken around 20 tablets on the day he changed his plea.

His also said his client had suffered a “difficult” childhood, which had been a contributory factor regarding O’Loughlin’s previous offending behaviour, while psychiatric reports indicated his client suffers from anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

In response, Geri Silke BL, for the Director of Public Prosecution, said Mr King had been attacked and “stabbed and stabbed again” in front of his children and former partner by the appellant.

An analysis of the blood stains on the appellant’s jeans by Forensic Science Ireland, she continued, found that the blood belonged to Mr King.

By placing his finger on his lip as left the property, O’Loughlin was telling Ms Keary “not to say anything about it,” Ms Silke said.

“It was a very frightening experience,” she said.

Ms Silke said it was in the judge’s discretion not to allow the change of plea, and that O’Loughlin’s constitutional rights had not been breached.

Dismissing the appeal against conviction, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, sitting with Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said there was “no doubt whatsoever” that Judge McCabe had carefully considered O’Loughlin’s application to vacate the guilty plea.

Ms Justice Kennedy added that the “inescapable conclusion” was the appellant had originally changed his plea guilty over fears he would receive a lengthy sentence if convicted by a jury.

The appellant’s bid to have his sentenced reduced was upheld, however, and the final 18 months of his 10-and-a-half-year term was suspended for three years by the Court of Appeal.

Ms Justice Kennedy said that although the three-judge court could find no error in Judge McCabe’s approach to sentencing, she said suspending a portion of the term would aid the appellant’s rehabilitation and would be granted only after the appellant entered into a bond to work with the probation services.

Galway Circuit Criminal Court was told Ms Keary was knocked to the ground when O’Loughlin forced his way past her as she stood at the front doorway of her home.

Detective Garda Pat Fahy told the court Mr King was stabbed six or seven times by O’Loughlin, and had suffered injuries to his ribs, his face and chest during the attack.

Gardai arrived at the scene shortly after Ms Keary ran to neighbours to raise the alarm, he said.

At the house, officers discovered blood on the carpet, walls, stairs, banisters, and in the bathroom.

O’Loughlin was arrested hours later in connection with the incident and charged at a special sitting of the District Court the following day.

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