Man’s sen­tence is in­creased for vi­o­lent bur­glary


Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

A VI­O­LENT bur­glar who broke into the ru­ral home of a can­cer-stricken woman and beat her hus­band with a hurl has had his prison sen­tence in­creased by the Court of Ap­peal.

Carl Free­man (23), of Ross­field Park, Tal­laght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to ag­gra­vated bur­glary at the home of Wil­liam Crean (72) and Kath­leen Crean (65) in a ru­ral area about a mile out­side Ash­ford Vil­lage, Co Wick­low, in the early hours of March 12, 2015.

He was sen­tenced at Wick­low Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court to seven years im­pris­on­ment, with the fi­nal three sus­pended, by Judge Michael O’Shea on July 26, 2017.

The Court of Ap­peal found Free­man’s sen­tence to be too le­nient last Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 3, on foot of an ap­peal brought by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions. He was ac­cord­ingly re­sen­tenced to ten years im­pris­on­ment, with the fi­nal four sus­pended.

Giv­ing judg­ment in the three­judge court, Mr Jus­tice John Ed­wards said Mrs Crean had un­for­tu­nately been suf­fer­ing from can­cer and kid­ney fail­ure for some time prior to the in­ci­dent. Ear­lier that night, Mr Crean had locked up his house at around mid­night and had gone to bed.

At around 3.30 a.m., the Crean’s dog started bark­ing which prompted Mr Crean to go down­stairs be­cause, he ex­plained, ‘I knew there was some­one or some­thing out­side’. As he was down­stairs, there was a bang, the kitchen door came in and three men en­tered each of them armed with a hurl.

Mr Crean re­treated to the bed­room and tried to shut the door but it was pushed in on top of him. One of the men shouted ‘where is the money? We know you have money’ be­fore draw­ing his hurl and hit­ting Mr Crean on the shoul­der as hard as he could give it.

Mrs Crean de­scribed how one in­truder told her to sit on the bed be­fore grab­bing her by the throat. He then grabbed both her hands and looked at her fin­gers to see whether she had any rings on. He held his hurl over her legs as if to hit her but Mr Crean pleaded with him ‘Don’t hit her. She’s not well.’

While Mr Crean was marched down the hall­way, one of the raiders kept on at him about ‘money, guns, gold and sil­ver’ but even­tu­ally the in­trud­ers left, hav­ing taken about €150 in cash. They ripped the land­line out of the wall as they left and took Mr Crean’s mo­bile phone so the el­derly cou­ple were left with no way of con­tact­ing the gar­daí. Mr Crean even­tu­ally walked to a neigh­bour’s house to raise the alarm.

Garda Brian McCor­mack had just fin­ished his shift in Tal­laght Garda Sta­tion at 7 a.m. and was driv­ing home when he ob­served an Audi A6 pull up be­side him at traf­fic lights at Cheev­er­stown Road, in Tal­laght. Gda McCor­mack took note of the car’s regis­tra­tion and recog­nised it as hav­ing been re­ported stolen the pre­vi­ous day. He fur­ther recog­nised the driver as Carl Free­man, who was known to him.

Gda McCor­mack be­gan to fol­low the car and a chase en­sued along the M7. Even­tu­ally the Audi was crashed and two oc­cu­pants of the car, in­clud­ing Free­man, were ar­rested.

In vic­tim im­pact state­ments, Mr Crean said ‘life has not been the same’ since the ag­gra­vated bur­glary.

‘Some­one came into my home to beat us up… Life has to­tally gone the op­po­site way to what it was,’ he said.

Mrs Crean said she still wakes up at 3 a.m. ev­ery morn­ing and could be awake for at least an hour.

‘There is no way I will now stay in the house on my own. Since this hap­pened, I don’t feel free any­more. I am like a pris­oner in my own home. I say to my­self “They will never come back” but you never know.’

The lady said she had to at­tend hos­pi­tal re­cently and felt safer there than in her home. She did not wake at 3 a.m. in the hos­pi­tal but ‘it’s back to wak­ing at 3 o’clock in the morn­ing’ when she re­turned home. ‘That’s the time they were here.’

Free­man was 19 years old at the time of the vi­o­lent bur­glary and 22 at the time of sen­tence. He had 62 pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions in­clud­ing 13 for crimes of dis­hon­esty in­volv­ing pos­ses­sion of house­break­ing equip­ment, theft, bur­glar­ies, tres­pass and han­dling stolen prop­erty. He had two pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for as­sault and a num­ber for drug-pos­ses­sion re­lated of­fences. In 2014, he was given a fully sus­pended two-and-a-half year sen­tence by Dublin Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court for bur­glary.

His par­ents split up when he was four years old and his older brother died in tragic cir­cum­stances. He had been a chronic drug ad­dict but be­came drug-free in prison.

Mr Jus­tice Ed­wards said there were nu­mer­ous ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors and only one sig­nif­i­cant mit­i­gat­ing fac­tor, be­ing Free­man’s se­ri­ous ad­dic­tion to drugs which led him ‘to re­sort to crime as his prin­ci­ple means’ of feed­ing his habit.

The ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors in­cluded the ran­sack­ing of the home, con­fronta­tion with the oc­cu­pier, the use of vi­o­lence, in­flic­tion of in­jury and the fact the vi­o­lent bur­glary was car­ried out at night and in num­bers.

Mr Jus­tice Ed­wards, who sat with Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal Mr Jus­tice Ge­orge Birm­ing­ham and Mr Jus­tice John Hedi­gan, re­sen­tenced Free­man to ten years im­pris­on­ment with the fi­nal four sus­pended.

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