Brutal | 

Waterford man recalls horror seven-hour kidnapping and golf club beating ordeal

As a 24-year-old student, he worked a part-time job in a garage in the Tramore area and one night, while locking up, he came face-to-face with two men who were wearing balaclavas and holding a gun.

James O'Sullivan pictured in 2008.

Paul Hyland

A caller to RTÉ’s Liveline programme said after receiving serious injuries during and an assault and kidnapping incident, he suffered from extreme panic attacks.

James O’Sullivan from Waterford, told how he was falsely imprisoned at gunpoint, savagely beaten, bundled into the boot of his car and told he’d be killed during a seven-hour ordeal in January 2000.

As a 24-year-old student, he worked a part-time job in a garage in the Tramore area and one night, while locking up, he came face-to-face with two men who were wearing balaclavas and holding a gun.

Mr O’Sullivan said when the money in the till was not enough, the pair ordered him to get into his car with them and begin driving.

With one man in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat, Mr O’Sullivan was ordered to drive to the countryside.

“He started to hit me on the back of the head as I was driving, and I got these sparks going off in my head. He nearly knocked me unconscious,” he said.

“He was delighted that he managed to kidnap me I suppose. That was just part of the plan… I happened to freeze because I had a gun stuck in my face… I was captured and held captive from that moment.”

Mr O’Sullivan said his captors proceeded to tie him up with his shoelaces, throw him in the boot of the car and begin “joyriding” around the countryside “at breakneck speeds” for several hours.

He said he felt like he was dealing with an “incredible level of evil” at the time and his brain was telling him that he “wasn’t dealing with a sane person”. He said he suspected that both men were drunk and on drugs, which was later confirmed by gardaí.

“There wasn’t any reasoning with these people. They took me for kicks basically. They worked for money, but kicks were a big part of it. The were feeding off the fear they were creating from me,” he said.

“A minute seems like a day when you’re in that sort of situation. So, seven hours is sort of like seven years… They were driving around like absolute lunatics, and they were extremely excited and they were driving at 80-90 miles an hour down country lanes.

“They were beating me so severely over a seven-hour period with golf clubs, my own golf clubs they found in the boot of the car… they beat me unconscious a number of times, broke my right leg, smashed my head to smithereens.

“They beat me enough just to keep me alive, but they had no intention of letting me go at any stage.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the men also stole a dog and threw it in the boot with him. He said the dog was also terrified.

He was eventually freed after his captors crashed the car and the boot began opening and closing as they drove. The damaged vehicle was spotted by gardaí who signalled to pull over and the two men fled on foot.

“Their DNA was all over the car, that’s how they got caught,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“I was falling in and out of consciousness. I had lost three pints of blood… I heard these voices and they sounded friendly so I called out ‘I’m in the boot of the car’ and they came over and the Garda opened the boot and she screamed.”

Mr O’Sullivan spent two weeks in intensive care after the ordeal.

While he no longer suffers from panic attacks, immediately after the incident he said the anxiety induced episodes were “off the charts”.

“Panic attacks, the words can’t describe what they do to you. You feel like you’ve completely lost control of your whole mind and your body,” he added.

Mr O’Sullivan said with help from a victim’s support group he was able to get the attacks under control.

Of his two attackers, one got a seven-year sentence and the other got four years, while a “girl” who also involved received a one-year suspended sentence.

Today's Headlines

More Irish Crime

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

WatchMore Videos