Judge Tom O’Donnell made his comments as he jailed a young man who admitted breaking into a house near Knocklong earlier this year
A JUDGE has said people who live alone in rural parts of County Limerick have to be protected from burglars who target their homes.
Judge Tom O’Donnell made his comments as he jailed a young man who admitted breaking into a house near Knocklong earlier this year.
Tyrone O’Connor, aged 28, who has an address at St Brendan’s Drive, Charleville, pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary relating to an incident at Lackelly on March 31, last.
In a victim impact statement, the 76-year-old victim described how he no longer feels safe in his own home as a result of the burglary during which a rifle and cash were taken.
During a sentencing hearing, Garda Cathal Ryan told Limerick Circuit Court said the house was broken into by a number of men late at night while the occupant was not at home.
However, on his return to the house he could see lights on and figures moving around inside so he rang his son who lives nearby.
Garda Ryan told Lily Buckley BL, instructed by State Solicitor Aidan Judge, the house had been ransacked and the gun safe forced open by the culprits.
In addition to a legally-held rifle, several thousand euro in cash was taken along with the CCTV recording system. The gun was located outside but the cash was never recovered.
Two men, including the accused, were arrested a short time later by gardai having been observed hiding in a nearby field.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said people should feel safe in their own homes and should be able to live alone without fear.
He said a message needs to go out that such incidents are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
The judge said it was an aggravating factor that O’Connor had deliberately targeted a house which was located in an isolated rural area of County Limerick.
“It was an easy target,” he said adding that his previous criminal history was also an aggravating factor.
While the defendant made admissions and pleaded guilty, Judge O’Donnell said a custodial sentence was warranted given the long-lasting impact that such offences can have on rural communities.
He imposed a five year prison sentence back-dating it to the date of the offence.