| 6.7°C Dublin

Limerick brawl Notorious rapist Thomas O’Neill jailed for violent disorder but likely to see early release

O’Neill (33) pleaded guilty to one count of violent disorder, following an alleged fight that took place in broad daylight in Limerick city centre

Close

Convicted gang rapist Thomas O’Neill

Convicted gang rapist Thomas O’Neill

Convicted gang rapist Thomas O’Neill

Convicted gang rapist Thomas O’Neill has been given a six-month jail sentence for committing violent disorder in his native Limerick city, but is likely to be released in January with good behaviour.

O’Neill, (33), with an address at Lenihan Avenue, Balllinacurra Weston, pleaded guilty before Limerick Circuit Court, to one count of violent disorder, following an alleged fight between a number of parties that took place in broad daylight, in Limerick city centre, on March 22, 2021.

The court heard O’Neill received a telephone call on the day and told that a close relative was being attacked in the city centre by a man referred to in court as “Mr A”.

When O’Neill, who the State described as “having a propensity for violence”, arrived at the scene, he confronted Mr A and grabbed him by the neck.

Gardaí said O’Neill ignored the directions of gardaí who were already at the scene, who asked him to desist and leave the area.

The court heard Mr A and two others who were referred to as Ms X and Mr Y, had been involved in an earlier “fist fight” in the city centre.

Gardaí said O’Neill “grabbed” Mr A and “pinned” him to a car as gardaí tried to separate them.

CCTV footage from security cameras at the scene which showed O’Neill arriving and confronting Mr A was shown in court.

Mr A was taken by ambulance to hospital with signs of concussion, bruising to his right eye, and scrapes to his neck.

O’Neill told gardaí he went to the scene to “protect” a third party, and he claimed Mr A had been the aggressor and had called him “a rapist”.

Gardaí agreed under cross examination by O’Neill’s defence barrister, Liam Carroll, BL, that the accused would have been “frustrated” at being called a rapist, and that “there were two of them in it”.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Mr Carroll said O’Neill had “from a young age being incarcerated for lengthy periods and has found it difficult to deal with his emotions, and he accepts his conduct was unacceptable”.

O’Neill, who has two children of his own, is married to April Collins, a former girlfriend of notorious criminal Ger Dundon and who turned State’s witness helping gardaí break up the Dundon crime gang in 2013.

Close

Thomas O'Neill and April Collins at their wedding. Picture: Facebook

Thomas O'Neill and April Collins at their wedding. Picture: Facebook

Thomas O'Neill and April Collins at their wedding. Picture: Facebook

 

In summation to the court, John O’Sullivan, Senior Prosecuting Counsel, said O’Neill “has a long history of violence, most notably a gang rape for which he received a 10 year sentence in 2004, he was a teenager at the time”.

Mr O’Sullivan added O’Neill has previous convictions which included, “intimidation of a witness; robbery; criminal damage; and violent disorder; and he has a history of significant and violent criminality”.

In January 2004, O’Neill, was one of three 16 year old boys, including Dean Barry of Garryglass Avenue, Ballincurra Weston, and Darragh O’Neill, Lenihan Avenue, along with 15-year old Jason Ring, of Crecora Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, who were sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison, for a violent gang rape of a woman at Cratloe Woods, Co Clare on January 23, 2003.

The late Mr Justice Paul Carney, presiding, Central Criminal Court, who sentenced O’Neill for the rape, said gardaí had described him as the “ringleader” and the “director of operations”.

Barry was found dead in his cell in tragic circumstances, at Limerick Prison, aged 24, on January 21, 2012.

In June 2005, Stephen Barry (25), of Roxboro Road, Limerick, was jailed for 20 years for having also participated in the gang rape.

The five accused pleaded guilty to rape and assault causing harm to the victim, as well as the false imprisonment and assault of a man who was with the victim on the night.

O’Neill received a six-month sentence for the violent disorder last March, which was backdated to September 27.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy