AN axe-wielding intruder must have caused “great alarm and trauma” in telling the occupant “I’m not finished with you”, Judge Carroll Moran has said.
Nigel Sheehan, 35, who is originally from Moyross but also has addresses at Vartry Avenue in Raheen and in Nenagh, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to burglary, production of an axe and to two sample counts of causing criminal damage to parked cars during what was described as “a rampage” in Ballinacurra on April 27, 2013. Mr Sheehan had only just discharged himself from University Hospital Limerick and had been going around to houses looking for money when - at around 2.50am - he kicked in the door of a house at Greenpark Villas.
Det Garda Pat Whelan told the court that the occupant, a male in his 50s who lived alone, was sound asleep when he was woken by his barking dog. He got up to see a man standing at the foot of his stairs and holding a small axe the occupant kept inside his front door.
When the occupant had demanded: “What the f**k are you doing in my house”, Mr Sheehan had responded “F**k you. I am not finished with you yet”.
This had alarmed the homeowner, who retreated to his bedroom and called the gardai.
Gardai had found Mr Sheehan shortly afterwards walking over the flyover bridge by the Crescent Shopping Centre, which Det Garda Whelan said was within 200 metres of the break-in. He matched a description given by the injured party and was carrying a bottle of brandy and a plastic bag of clothing stolen from the house.
A partial bootprint on the door that had been kicked in was also a match for the footwear worn by Mr Sheehan on the night.
The court heard that the accused had, in the period leading up to the break-in, been knocking on doors in the neighbourhood looking for money for a taxi.
“All I wanted was the price of a cab home,” he had told gardai, to whom he had also admitted kicking out at the wing mirrors of up to eight cars in the vicinity.
Among Mr Sheehan’s 112 prior convictions are 12 for burglary, 16 for theft and larceny, and one apiece for robbery and possession of an article.
Mark Nicholas BL said that Mr Sheehan’s offending was rooted in his alcohol addiction.
“This guy is a menace when on drink and he has been like this since he first came to the attention of the gardai when he was 20,” said Mr Nicholas.
“He drinks too much and he can’t handle it and it seems clear that he was highly intoxicated on the night in question,” he added.
The court had heard how the dog in the house had been “barking for ages” in spite of which Mr Sheehan had decided to break in anyway.
“Any sensible person, if that was their business, would have gone elsewhere,” the barrister added.
All property taken from the house was recovered and the accused should be afforded some credit for his plea and admissions, Mr Nicholas said.
While Mr Nicholas said his client wished to do something about his drinking, Judge Carroll Moran was concerned about a probation report that Mr Sheehan’s alcohol problems appeared “deeply ingrained” and his assertions that he wished to stay off drink appeared “facile and unsupported by actions when offered an opportunity to avail of addiction services”.
The situation appeared “pretty hopeless” Judge Moran said after also noting that among the previous convictions was one for robbery in respect of which he had imposed a two-year sentence in 2010.
For burglary on April 27, 2013, Judge Moran imposed a four-year sentence with the final year suspended.