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Man jailed after breaking into terminally ill woman's house and repeatedly beating her son

Graham Stafford (36) has been jailed for four and a half years.

Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice
Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice
Image: Sasko Lazarov

A DUBLIN MAN who broke into a terminally ill woman’s house and repeatedly beat her son over four hours has been jailed for four and a half years.

Graham Stafford (36) broke into the home in the early hours of the morning, believing one of the family owed him €3,000.

Detective Garda Paul Oates said Stafford kicked and hit the then 32-year-old male occupant in front of his mother, who was suffering from cancer and has since passed away.

Today, Judge Pauline Codd described the offence as “heinous” and contrary to human decency and compassion to terrify somebody who was dying. She said the family were left with that legacy in the context of the woman’s final days as she struggled with illness.

Her son later told gardaí that Stafford had appeared “off his head on drugs”. At one point Stafford, who was known to the family, made threats with a large kitchen knife and hit the man over the head with a Yankee Candle.

Guilty plea

Stafford, of St Canice’s Square, Dublin 11, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to false imprisonment at Corduff Gardens, Blanchardstown, Dublin, on 24 January 2015.

His 11 previous convictions are for minor drugs and public order matters and he has been in custody since 2015.

Judge Codd took into account Stafford’s guilty plea, his letter of apology and expression of remorse. She further acknowledged his difficult background and his mental health difficulties.

The judge imposed a six-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended for that period. She ordered that Stafford undergo addiction counselling and engage with training and employment services.

She backdated the sentence to July 2015, when Stafford went into custody on that matter.

Additional evidence

Detective Garda Oates told Caroline Cummings BL, prosecuting, that Stafford seemed to have thought the injured party’s sister had disposed of €3,000 drugs. Throughout the incident he would stop and start the assault.

At one point he told the injured party he was stopping because the man’s mother had asked him to. Then he giggled, made a joke and became aggressive once more. He eventually left the house, before returning briefly to seek a small amount of money to buy cocaine.

Detective Garda Oates said the injured man suffered a cut to his left eye, lumps on his head and mouth wounds. He told investigators he had dizzy spells and headaches after the incident.

He didn’t go for medical treatment because he had to take his mother to hospital the next day. A victim impact report was handed into court, but not read out.

Detective Garda Oates agreed with Kathleen Leader SC, defending, that her client had been under the influence of drugs at the time. He further agreed Stafford had no previous convictions for a crime of this caliber.

Leader submitted to Judge Codd that Stafford wished to apologise to the man he attacked and express sympathy at his mother’s passing.

Leader said her client was put on medication after witnessing the violent death of his friend over ten years ago. She said he suffered family bereavements about a year later and was in a motorbike accident which ended his chances of playing professional football.

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About the author:

Aoife Nic Ardghail

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