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Three men jailed for nearly 50 years combined over 'barbaric' burglaries

Willie Creed was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver during the horrific incident.

Image: Shutterstock/Issarawat Tattong

THREE MEN HAVE been sentenced to combined jail terms of nearly 50 years for “barbaric” break-ins at two rural homes in Co Limerick, five years ago.

Patrick Roche, (53), from Kilcronan Close, Clondalkin in Dublin, along with his son, Philip Roche, (24), were jailed for 17 years and 15 years respectively. Patrick Roche’s son-in-law, Alan Freeman, (37), from Pearse Park, Tipperary Town, was jailed for 14 years.

The final three years of each sentence was suspended, reducing the total combined sentences from 46 years to 37 years.

Free legal aid was granted to the three defendants should they wish appeal the length of the sentences.

In May 2012, Patrick and Philip Roche broke into the isolated rural home of pensioner siblings, Willie, Nora, and Chrissie Creed, at Ballyluddy, Pallasgreen.

They tied up Mr Creed and his sisters, aged in their 70s, before assaulting them, and leaving them covered in blood. Willie Creed was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver during the horrific incident.

The Roches fled with €5,000 in cash which they had discovered hidden in a sock.

In passing sentence today, presiding judge, John Hannan, described the burglary at the Creeds home as “a heinous, barbaric, and very violent attack on very vulnerable people”.

“It was a sickening episode and it indicated a complete lack of empathy for older people,” he said.

Assault

Six weeks prior to the burglary at the Creed farmhouse, Patrick and Philip Roche, along with Alan Freeman, broke into the home of the Gerry and Anne Garvey, Sunville House, Pallasgreen.

They tied up Mr and Mrs Garvey, and their four children, and assaulted them.

The gang also threatened Mr Garvey at gunpoint, before they fled the house with cash. Gardai later recovered some of the stolen money.

The three defendants, who had denied charges of aggravated burglary and false imprisonment at the Creed and Garvey residences, were found guilty of the charges by a jury at Limerick Circuit Court.

Judge Hannan said the defendants had acted “menacingly” and with “brutality” having planned the burglaries, worn dark clothing and balaclavas and armed themselves with weapons.

He said these type of aggravated burglaries cause “great harm” to victims and to the communities where they occur.

“It tears up the fabric of rural community life and causes suspicion and fear which spreads like a virus,” he added.

The judge also said the burglaries had “shattered the tranquility” of the lives of both families.

“To say it was terrifying for them, would be one of the greatest understatements of all time.”

In handing down the sentences Judge Hannan noted “a lack of mitigating factors”, adding, “they are few and far between”.

Amazed

Speaking outside the court afterwards, Tommy Creed, who found his siblings covered in blood in their home following the burglary, said, he felt justice had been served:

“Very good…I was amazed with the sentences they got, and (it’s) a pity there wouldn’t be more judges like him – the country would be a safer place.”

Gerry Garvey, who was threatened during the burglary at his home that his head would be blown off, said gardai had “proved their worth” in bringing the gang to justice.

“We are pleased generally that justice has been served. I think the sentences are a very good deterrent. I think it sends a very strong message out that crime is not acceptable and that rural communities can be protected…and that rural communities are valued,” he said.

“If the gardai are given resources, they can do a very good job,” Mr Garvey added.

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About the author:

David Raleigh

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