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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 6 December, 2019
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Man who carried out 'savage and brutal beating' of 89-year-old woman in her home sentenced to jail

They ransacked the house, took jewellery and cash, and viciously assaulted their 89-year-old victim.

Eva Sutton who was attacked in the home she has spent most of her life in in Bray.
Eva Sutton who was attacked in the home she has spent most of her life in in Bray.
Image: RTÉ News

A MAN WITH 96 previous convictions has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, with two suspended, for the “savage and brutal beating” of 89-year-old Eva Sutton in Bray.

Michael Cash (25) of Ashlawn Park, Ballybrack, appeared before Judge Michael O’Shea today at Wicklow Circuit Court, charged with burglary, false imprisonment, and assault causing harm, at 38 Dublin Road on 10 September 2016.

Co-accused Jamie O’Brien (23), formerly of 6 Hazelwood, Bray received the same sentence, handed down last April.

Prosecutor Paul Murray told the court that Mrs Sutton was a widow, living by herself at 38 Dublin Road, her home for more than 50 years.

She heard a bang and left her room in the early hours of the date in question. The two men she encountered demanded money and jewellery.

They ransacked the house, took jewellery and cash, and viciously assaulted their 89-year-old victim.

They beat her with her own walking stick and held it across her throat, kicked and punched her, pulled her around by the hair, and used dog-leads and belts to restrain her.

The ordeal lasted one hour and 25 minutes. They fled the scene and left Mrs Sutton tied up

They went for her, Mrs Sutton told gardaí, and demanded money and jewellery.

“They were vicious towards me, kicking me and trying to put the handle of my walking stick around my neck.

I stopped them with my hand, pleading with them not to do it. I was knocked to the ground and left in a sitting position.

“I said to them, ‘I am dying, I am dying’, which made no difference to them.”

Safe

They asked if she had a safe.

“I told them I am a widow and a pensioner, what good would a safe be to me?

I was hit on my face with fists and they kicked me on the ground all over my body, including my chest and legs.

“I remember being pulled by the hair by them as they brought me from the hall to the sitting-room. I said, ‘Don’t do that, don’t do that’. They stopped and started kicking me instead.”

The pair used straps to tie her up by the legs and arms and shoved her into the sitting room.

“It was a horrific experience,” she said.

“I thought the time would never go and they said, ‘We could kill you’ and ‘We could shoot you’. This terrified me and I could only plead with them. I was so frightened.”

In a report read out by Murray, the court heard that Mrs Sutton was very independent prior to the attack. She had numerous injuries, including broken ribs, a broken nose, punctured lung, lacerations to the face and legs and bruises all over her body.

The total value of jewellery stolen exceeded €6,049, of which only costume jewellery was later retrieved.

The total financial cost including medical costs and damage to property was €23,7800.

Aftermath

In the aftermath of the assault, during her recuperation at Leopardstown Park, Mrs Sutton had her wounds dressed daily and needed help dressing. She had difficulty sleeping at night and suffered nightmares. She suffered bouts of depression, anger and not recognising people, all symptoms of age-related PTSD.

She would awake crying out, imagining the ordeal happening again. Even now, she needs to have the hall light left on and bedroom door left open.

“Eva wishes she had died that morning,’ the court heard, in a victim impact statement read out by Mr Murray.

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“She made the decision herself not to return home. She would have gone mad – imagining hooded phantoms returning to do their worst.”

Mrs Sutton was gregarious and outgoing. She lived independently and peacefully, enjoying her memories and memorabilia, her garden and dog.

She still loves to visit Bray, but “if she visited home she would have a nervous breakdown,” the court heard.

“She grieves for her home and way of life so abruptly ended.”

Mrs Sutton’s brother was so traumatised by what happened, he has since decided to move to assisted living.

Garda Bissett told the court that neither Cash nor O’Brien had made any admissions during interview.

“Michael Cash answered but completely denied all involvement,” said Garda Bissett.

“He described the attack on Mrs Sutton as ‘sick’.”

Evidence in the case included DNA evidence, an attempt to use sterling cash in a nearby Centra, and the recovery of some costume jewellery near Cash and O’Brien in Shankill that morning.

Bissett said that Cash had 96 previous convictions, 29 of those for theft and burglaries, others for a collection of criminal damage, public order, weapons, assault, road traffic, and court related charges.

Cash was on bail on other matters at the time of the attack.

Senior Counsel Orla Crowe said that her client wished to offer “his profound and sincere remorse” to Mrs Sutton. She said that he had been consuming drugs over the preceding day leading up to the attack.

Judge Michael O’Shea said that Mrs Sutton was “a wonderfully independent lady in a position to look after herself”.

He said “this was severely and brutally interrupted on the date in question”.

Cash and O’Brien “clearly showed her no sympathy or mercy”, said Judge O’Shea.

“She was in a vulnerable, helpless, hopeless situation when the two men entered her home.

“The outrageous savagery and brutality they subjected Mrs Sutton to is unimaginable,’ said the judge.

“What they did to her amounted to torture. They tortured this decent, wonderful, kind lady, for what reason? She was frail. What would she do? Absolutely nothing.”

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Mary Fogarty

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