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"Thuggery of the highest order": Brothers who staged 'terrifying home invasion' avoid jail

Ronan and Jamie Carey were both given three-year suspended sentences for the crime.

TWO WEST CLARE brothers who subjected their aunt, uncle and young cousins to a ‘terrifying home invasion’ ordeal two years ago have walked free from court.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys said that Ronan Carey (25) and Jamie Carey (26) had engaged “in thuggery of the highest order” when invading the home of Fergus Downes on 30 August 2015.

Judge Keys imposed suspended three-year sentences on Ronan Carey and Jamie Carey and a 16-month suspended sentence on Gary O’Gorman (26) for his minor role in the incident.

Judge Keys said that he was prepared to suspend the jail terms because of the relationship between the offenders and the victims, the €5,000 in compensation paid by the offenders, their remorse and “also to avoid possible conflict in the future”.

He said: “I am mindful that the Careys and Downes are related and that, hopefully, this will bring an end to the dispute and that there will be no further trouble between the Downes and Carey families.”

Judge Keys said that he regarded the attack by the Careys on the Downes home in the west Clare village of Kilmihil as “very serious” and the attack occurred only hours after Ronan Carey carried out a mid-day assault on his then 14-year-old cousin, Evan Downes on Church Street in the village.

In a statement to gardaí, Evan Downes said that Ronan Carey got out of his car at 12pm on 29 August and threw him on the ground and started kicking and punching him.

The teen suffered a broken hand in the attack which was witnessed by one-passer who saw Carey head-butt Evan Downes who dropped to the ground and then received three or four kicks.

The boy’s father, Fergus Downes brought his son to University Hospital Limerick where the teen had a cast put on his broken hand.

The two returned to their home at 1.50am only for Downes to see four figures, Ronan Carey, Jamie Carey both of Church Street, Kilmihil and their first cousin, Gary O’Gorman of Treamanagh, Mullagh and a fourth man coming up the hill towards their home.

Downes said: “They are coming up the hill, call the gardaí.”

In the attack three cavity blocks were thrown – two through the windows of the Downes home and another through the window of Jason’s – Evan’s brother – car. During the incident, Ronan and Jamie Carey entered the home.

Jason Downes was protecting the front door where a cavity block came through.

He said: “It hit me straight on the head, [my] head and eye [were] bleeding.”

An ambulance arrived and Jason Downes spent the night at hospital where he required nine stitches across an eyebrow and five stitches in his hand.

In a victim impact statement to court, he said: “I had to be stitched back together. I was badly attacked and assaulted. This incident has left me very afraid to do anything.

I could have been killed if that block hit me in the wrong place.

Jason Downes added: “I don’t know why they did this to us – I know they blame my younger brother for damaging their tractor.”

In the case, Ronan Carey pleaded guilty to assault, burglary and criminal damage while Jamie Carey pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal damage, while O’Gorman pleaded guilty to criminal damage.

Counsel for Ronan Carey, Mark Nicholas SC said: “This was a disgraceful episode and the whole tragedy of this is that they are cousins. Ronan Carey’s dad is a brother of Mrs Downes. They used to get on great and this spoiled their relationship.”

Judge Keys said that O’Gorman was peripheral to what occurred where he admitted to throwing a stone that broke a window of the Downes home.

Read: ‘I’m ecstatic that this monster is going away for 12 years’: Woman raped at gaming convention speaks out

Read: Landline operator fined after sending bills to pensioner for service it didn’t provide

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About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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