Prison terms over violent invasion of County Limerick home

David Hurley


David Hurley

Christopher Stokes (left) and John Cahill (right) received lengthy prison sentences
TWO men have received lengthy prison sentences for their role in a violent armed raid at the home of a well-known County Limerick businessman more than two years ago.

TWO men have received lengthy prison sentences for their role in a violent armed raid at the home of a well-known County Limerick businessman more than two years ago.

Gerry Garvey, his wife Anne and their four children were subjected to a terrifying ordeal when a masked gang armed with a sawn-off shotgun, baseball bat and sledge-hammer entered their home at Sunville House, Pallasgreen, on April 16, 2012.

The raiders entered the house by smashing the patio doors and once inside, Mr Garvey (54) was restrained face down on the kitchen floor while members of the gang demanded to know where the safe and cash were.

During a sentencing hearing, which was heard in June, Limerick Circuit Court was told Mr Garvey was threatened at gunpoint and told his head would be blown off and that his family would be killed.

John Cahill, aged 30, who has addresses in Doon and Cappamore and Christopher Stokes, aged 42, of St Anthony’s Park, Knocknaheeny, Cork City each pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated burglary while Stokes also admitted falsely imprisoning Mr Garvey on the same date.

During the sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Mike Reidy said one of Mr Garvey’s twin daughters – Grace, then aged 16 – had her hands tied with cable ties while her brother Graham, then 14, was punched and knocked to the ground.

The court heard that Anne Garvey, who was having a bath upstairs when the raiders burst into her home pretended to look for the key to the safe from which the men took around $3,000 and €5,000 worth of sterling notes.

The couple’s other children Gordon, 16, and Gillian, 14, were also in the house at the time but were not injured.

Det Garda Reidy said Stokes was one of those who entered the House and that Cahill had acted as the getaway driver.

The court was told the culprits used a high-powered BMW, which has been stolen in the Cappamore area three weeks earlier, to make their escape.

Cahill also admitted setting the car, which was fitted with false registration plates, on fire in a wooded area near Rearcross two days after the incident.

Judge Carroll Moran was told he made admissions following his arrest and helped gardai locate the shotgun and other items which was used during the burglary.

However, the court heard, Stokes made no comment during 32 separate interviews with gardai, which took place over several days following his arrest.

Det Garda Reidy said Stokes was arrested in Buttevant, North Cork less than a hour after the aggravated burglary by members of the local traffic corps who became concerned about the car he was travelling in.

At the time, he said, they were not aware of what had happened in Pallasgreen.

A balaclava and handcuffs were found in the car and shards of glass found in Stoke’s clothing were a match to the smashed glass at Sunville House.

In his victim impact statement Gerry Garvey said prior to the incident his home “was a place of peace and tranquillity” but that as a result of what happened he and members of his family are “constantly edgy and fearful even within the confines of the house.”

“Any loud noise, whether a loud knock at the door or a cup or glass smashing on the floor sends shivers down our spines in a way that never previously existed,” he said.

Judge Moran said the targeting of a remote and rural house was a matter of grave concern and he said an aggravating factor was the level of pre-planning involved.

He sentenced Stokes, who he said was the more culpable of the defendants, to seven years imprisonment.

He imposed a five year prison sentence on Cahill but ordered it be served consecutively to a five-year sentence which he received at Nenagh Circuit Court last month for a firearms offence.