Two Cashel brothers who inflicted "horrendous" injuries on a foreign national with a hammer and garden hoe, received a total of eight years imprisonment with the last four years suspended at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Tom Teehan imposed the sentences on Thomas and Mark O'Riordan of No. 11 Ladyswell Street, Cashel for the aggravated burglary they committed at No. 64 Rockwood, Cashel on June 17 last year.
The two men also received a four and a half year concurrent sentence for assaulting and harming Bartolomj Stamblewski at that house and Mark O'Riordan received a four year concurrent sentence for causing criminal damage on the same date.
The case against a third defendant, James Cummins, aged 22, of 35 Summercove, Old Road, Cashel, who pleaded guilty to burglary of No. 64 Rockwood, Cashel, was adjourned until December to allow him engage with the Probation Service. Judge Teehan indicated that if Cummins impressed the court with his behaviour, some or possibly all of the five year jail term he considered to be the appropriate sentence would be suspended.
Sgt. Ray Moloney of Cahir Garda Station gave evidence that gardai were alerted to an altercation at 64 Rockwood on June 17 last year. They met with Bartolomj Stamblewski, who alleged that earlier in the evening a verbal altercation involving Marcin Wiegan, Mark and Thomas O'Riordan and to a lesser extent James Cummins took place outside the house.
He and Mr Wiegan sensed it was going to escalate, retreated back into the house and closed the door. Mr Stamblewski alleged the O'Riordan brothers smashed through the fence and entered the curtilage of the house.
A hammer and hoe owned by Mr Wiegan's father were picked up. Mark O'Riordan smashed the window of the back door as he entered the house.
Mr Stamblewski and Mr Wiegan ran upstairs and took refuge. Somebody followed them upstairs, found Mr Stamblewski and put him on the landing. Mr Stamblewski couldn't identify who it was.
He was struck a number of times in the face with the hammer. He suffered significant facial injuries and most of his teeth were broken. He was also hit a number of times with the hoe, which caused puncture wounds to his head and body.
The O'Riordan's stopped the attack and left the house after the victim shouted "Don't kill me".
In relation to Cummins, the sergeant outlined that this defendant entered the house after the O'Riordans. There was an altercation between Cummins and Mr Wiegan and he left the house with the O'Riordans when they left.
When the gardai arrived at the scene, they saw the O'Riordans and Cummins in an agitated state close by. When they were arrested, all three men admitted their involvement in the incident.
The court heard the incident arose out of a dispute involving the O'Riordans and Mr Wiegan. Mr Stamblewski had just called to Mr Wiegan to go socialising and was completely innocent and sober.
Prosecuting barrister Frank Quirke said Mr Stamblewski was taken to South Tipperary General Hospital and transferred to Cork University Hospital for further treatment of his facial injuries.
The court heard Mr Stamblewski didn't wish to make a Victim Impact Statement.
All three defendants gave undertakings to the court that they would have no contact with Mr Stamblewski and that he had nothing to fear from them in the future. Mr Wielgan was no longer in the country.
The three defendants barristers outlined that their clients apologised for their behaviour and pleaded guilty at an early stage to the offences.
Mark O'Riordan's barrister Suzanne Gorey BL said Mark O'Riordan suffered significant injuries including lacerations to his head during the incident and was hospitalised. The injuries may have been caused by "friendly fire" inflicted in the heat of the moment, she pointed out.
Ms Gorey also told the court that her client had addiction issues and consumed alcohol on the date of the offence.
She handed to Judge Teehan a letter from her client requesting the court to deal with him leniently and for alcohol and drug addiction treatment to form part of his sentence.
She outlined that her client had been abusing drugs and alcohol since the age of 12. He in and out of custody since the age of 13. He was only out of prison about 15 months when he committed this offence and felt he didn't have sufficient support after leaving prison.
Barrister Thomas Griffin, representing Thomas O'Riordan, said his client certainly committed a deplorable act but also suffered a head injury in this incident and was taken to South Tipperary General Hospital for treatment.
The aggravated burglary was not planned and was not directed at stealing valuable objects. The weapons used in the crime were not brought to the scene but found there, he pointed out. There was also a lot of intoxication involved in this incident.
He submitted a letter from the Laois/Offaly Education Board in relation to his client's studies while on remand in prison in relation to this crime. His client was clean of alcohol and drugs since he went into custody and was on a waiting list for a consellor.
Mr Griffin pointed to Thomas O'Riordan's letter of apology, which outlined that he turned to alcohol and drugs after breaking up with his girlfriend and was at a low place in his life on the night of this incident.
In the letter, Thomas O'Riordan appealed to the court to show him leniency and pointed out he was now back with his girlfriend and would like to return to his young son as he was missing out on his life. He also pledged that he would not come before the court again. He was not a danger to society and he was fighting his addictions.
Mr Griffin also read a letter from his client's partner, which described him as an "amazing" father to their son and detailed her belief that he wouldn't re-offend.
James Cummins' defence counsel Dermot Cahill BL said his client was not involved in the serious assault and urged the court to treat him differently to the O'Riordans when imposing sentence.
The barrister said his client has kept out of trouble since this incident and apologised to Mr Stamblewski when he met him on the street.
He now had a five month old baby, was off alcohol and attending a counsellor for his addictions. His mother died when he was young and he was taken into care and spent time in institutions for juvenile offenders. He now wanted to show a good example to his son and change his life.
Mr Cahill also said his client was engaging with the Probation Service.
He requested Judge Teehan not to finalise his client's sentence for some time so he could prove to the court that he can be a good member of society.
Judge Teehan said "quite horrendous" injuries were inflicted by the O'Riordans using weapons and he regarded this as a very serious case and at the top of the range of such offences.
The very fact the principle victim was afraid to make a victim impact statement spoke volumes and didn't reflect favourably on Mark and Thomas O'Riordan. He also noted both men were given chances by the courts in the past.
He took into account the three men's early pleas of guilty, the fact the crime wasn't pre-meditated and he was satisfied they were genuinely remorseful. All were anxious to rehabilitate and had taken some steps to achieve this.
The Judge noted that Cummins' role in this crime was certainly on a lesser scale and he considered the burglary he committed to be in the middle range of such offences.
He suspended the last four years of the eight year prison terms he imposed on the O'Riordan brothers for four years on condition they entered into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, not consume alcohol or illicit drugs and engaged with the Probation Service on their release from custody. He agreed to back date the commencement of the prison sentences to June 19 last year when they both went into custody.
Judge Teehan suggested he would be impressed if Cummins took part in a community activity that didn't require Garda vetting over the next six months.
And he warned him that if caused the slightest difficulty, the case against him would be re-entered into the court.