The second member of a family that terrorised residents in Fethard received a lengthy jail term at Clonmel Circuit Court for assaulting three people, burglary and causing criminal damage to the front door of a house.
Judge Tom Teehan imposed a seven year jail sentence on Patrick Doyle, aged 20, of Ballybeg, Littleton, Thurles and suspended the last five years for the spate of offences he committed at Slievenamon Close, Gort an Oir and Killenaule Road, Fethard in 2016.
Last December, his older brother, Michael, received a seven and a half years prison sentence with the final three years suspended for his role in the incidents at Slievenamon Close and Gort an Oir. The defendant gave an undertaking at Judge Teehan's request that the victims had nothing to fear from him in the future.
Judge Teehan described the incidents as "very serious and reprehensible" and the direct and indirect victims of these crimes were "terrified" of the Doyle family.
Patrick Doyle pleaded guilty to committing burglary and assaulting and harming John Hickey at Gort an Oir, Fethard on March 31, 2016. He admitted assaulting and harming a youth and assaulting him outside his home at Slievenamon Close, Fethard on April 9, 2016 and committing burglary and criminal damage at a house at Slievenamon Close on the same date. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting Thomas Sheehan at Killenaule Road, Fethard.
Sgt. Kieran O'Regan gave evidence that a youth was chatting to his friend outside his home at Slievenamon Close when Michael Doyle arrived. Michael Doyle assaulted the young man and a fight ensued as the youth tried to get Michael Doyle out of his garden. A number of members of the Doyle family drove up in a red car. They tried to stop the youth from getting inside his front door. During the incident Patrick Doyle bit the youth in the neck. The young man managed to get inside this front door. He and his mother managed to get the door closed but the Doyles kicked and banged the door smashing three of the six panes of glass. Patrick Doyle was seen breaking one of the windows.
On April 11, 2016, John Hickey made a statement to gardai outlining that on March 31 he recorded a video on his mobile phone showing two dogs coming into his drive way. He posted it on Facebook and stated that he was unable to leave his house because of the viciousness of the dogs. At 1pm, he looked out his window and saw Patrick Doyle and his mother Bridget. He answered the door and they asked him if he put up the video. Patrick Doyle punched him in the face and in the left eye. He was standing in his hallway and was stunned by the punches. The defendant attempted to strike him again. Michael Doyle ran in the driveway. Mr Hickey succeeded in pushing Patrick Doyle from the door and attempted to close the door. The defendent burst in the door and punched him several times. Michael Doyle also punched him.
Sgt. O'Regan said Mr Hickey was initially reluctant to give a statement to the gardai because he was afraid. He told gardai he was in fear of his life during this "crazy attack". Mr Hickey was shocked that people should do this to him in his own home and this was why he decided to make a statement. He said he was not going to allow the Doyle family bully him.
Tommy Sheehan Junior, meanwhile, gave a statement outlining that he saw the video of the two dogs on March 31, 2016 and put up a comment on Facebook about it. His father later told him that two lads called to his door looking for him. He saw Patrick Doyle close to the Centra store and Doyle tried to get him. He told Mr Sheehan he would catch him later. Tommy Sheehan was travelling in a car with his father and saw Patrick Doyle on the Killenaule Road. Tommy Junior got out of the car and walked towards Doyle. The defendant was saying stuff under his breath and without warning he hit him in the temple area and knocked him flat on his back.
"My face hurt from the punch. I didn't know what was after happening. I was never punched like that before in my life," he told gardai. His father got out of the car and walked to his side. Patrick Doyle threatened them. Mr Sheehan was terrified since the attack.
Sgt O'Regan said the gardai carried out an arrest operation involving gardai and detectives based at Clonmel Garda District and members of the Regional Support Unit from Waterford. They arrived at the Doyle family home at Gort an Oir and arrested Patrick and Michael Doyle and their mother Bridget. Patrick Doyle made admissions to gardai when he was being interviewed and was co-operative. He hadn't any previous convictions, the sergeant added.
The youth assaulted in Slievenamon Close described in his victim impact statement that he suffered bruising, cuts and scratches on his body and head and suffered a black eye. He said he was paranoid after the attack, always looking over his shoulder and was scared to go out for a long time. He was worried about his family. His younger brother suffered hugely from witnessing the incident. He said he just wanted to move on without the Doyle family harassing him.
In her victim impact statement, the youth's mother said €150 worth of damage was caused to their front door. She suffered from anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares and panic attacks after the incident. Her younger son was reluctant to go outside and was constantly looking out the window and waking in the middle of the night.
John Hickey outlined in his Victim Impact Statement that he suffered bruising and pains for nearly a month after the assault. He was afraid to leave his house for weeks and was always locking his doors. He claimed that members of the Doyle family were always coming past his house, staring in, intimidating them. A letter from his GP supported his request to the Council to move house because of what happened.
Sgt. O'Regan said Tommy Sheehan Junior didn't wish to make a Victim Impact Statement.
Defence barrister John Griffin said his client was 18 years-old at the time he committed these offences and now had a four month old child. His client conveyed his deepest apologies for his behaviour. Hearing the victim impact statements at his brother's court case, brought home to him the impact of his behaviour. His client brought the sum of €200 to court as compensation for the damage he caused to the house.
The barrister pointed out his client moved away from Fethard since being charged with these offences. He attended all his Probation Service appointments and had been assessed as being of a moderate risk of re-offending. He submitted a letter from the chairman of a boxing club that his client was involved in. His client was determined to continue his achievement and skills in this sport.
Mr Griffin appealed to Judge Teehan to take into account the fact his client hadn't any previous convictions and suggested Doyle would benefit from some kind of supervision rather than a period in prison.
After hearing all the evidence, Judge Teehan said these were very serious and reprehensible incidents. The direct and indirect victims of these crimes were terrified of the Doyle family. Very serious threats were made during and in the aftermath of these events, which added to the suffering of the victims. The victim impact reports made very clear that the injured parties suffered very considerably while Mr Sheehan had still not moved back to his own dwelling because of what happened him two years ago.
"The sheer viciousness of the assaults in each case on these people who had a reasonable expectation that they could have the quiet enjoyment of their own home almost takes your breath away. These are very serious, aggravating factors in this case," he declared.
Judge Teehan continued that while that attack on Mr Sheehan didn't take place on his own property, it was nonetheless a very severe blow that knocked him to the ground and it was accompanied by threats to the victim and his father.
Judge Teehan noted Doyle's guilty plea saved the victims the necessity of giving evidence in court and would help to ameliorate their suffering and help their recovery. People involved in sport tended not to get involved in criminal activity and to Doyle's credit this is what he put his energies into most of the time. But during this period in 2016, he simply forgot about the discipline required by a boxer. The Judge believed the birth of the defendant's child has concentrated his mind and noted the Probation Report carried out on his was very positive. And in contrast to his brother Michael, he hadn't any previous convictions.
Nevertheless, Judge Teehan noted this was a case of joint enterprise and he imposed a total of seven years imprisonment. In view of the positive things put before the court in relation to the defendant he suspended the final five years of the jail term for a period of five years