A man who appeared before Longford Circuit Court recently charged in connection with an aggravated burglary was sentenced to five years in prison which the presiding judge suspended on the grounds that he enter a bond to keep the peace; have no contact with the injured party and make a monetary payment in compensation as soon as possible.
Jude Norton (47), 8 Curry Park, Newtownforbes, Co Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson charged with aggravated burglary at 21 Camlin Mews, Longford on September 16, 2015.
Outlining the evidence in the case to the court, State prosecutor Mr Des Dockery BL said that on the date in question, the accused entered the home of John Conboy who resided in Longford town and was in possession of a knife at the time of the incident.
The court went on to hear that later that day, Garda Clive Glancy at Longford Garda Station received a report indicating to him that there had been an incident in the Camlin Mews area of the town.
Gardaí, the court was told, arrived at the injured party’s house shortly after 5pm.
“The Gardaí knocked on the door but there was no response so they went to the house next door and knocked on that door,” continued Mr Dockery BL.
“The neighbour came out of the house and told the Gardaí that Mr Conboy was outside on a wall between the two houses.
“The Gardaí were also told that Mr Conboy was injured.
He said that he had been assaulted and subsequently locked out of his house.”
Meanwhile, the court went on to hear that when the Gardaí interviewed Mr Conboy about the incident, he told them that Mr Norton had pushed him back into the house when the injured party opened the door to him.
“He was knocked to the ground and punched in the head a few times; a knife was placed against his throat and he was hit around the legs with a poker,” the State prosecutor continued before then pointing out that an ambulance was called in the aftermath of the assault and Mr Conboy was taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar.
“Mr Conboy said that when Mr Norton entered his home, he locked the front door and put the key into his pocket.
“Mr Norton beat him with his fists and with a poker; the injured party said that while he felt dazed at the time, he did not believe that he had been knocked out.”
The court then heard that Mr Norton told Mr Conboy during the course of the assault that he would “cut his throat”.
The knife, the court was told was then placed at the injured party’s temple and Mr Conboy was in fear for his life because he felt that, at that point, he was going to be stabbed.
“Mr Conboy told gardaí that he eventually got out of the house via the back door and tried to climb up on a wall so that he could shout to his neighbour for help,” Mr Dockery added.
Meanwhile, the court heard that a short time after the incident, gardaí called to the home of the accused in Newtownforbes - just a few miles outside Longford town.
The accused invited gardaí into his home, Judge Johnson was told, and he was later arrested on suspicion of assault.
“He was taken to Longford Garda Station for questioning but appeared to be under the influence of an intoxicant so a doctor was called.” Mr Dockery BL continued.
“In due course gardaí were able to interview Mr Norton and during the course of those interviews, the accused made certain admissions.
“He said he had a few drinks on the date in question and that things started to play on his mind.”
The State prosecutor then told Judge Johnson that there was a background to the case before him and district court proceedings had already taken place in respect of the matter.
“Mr Conboy had interfered with the accused’s daughter and Mr Norton was very aggrieved over the matter,” he added.
Medical evidence of Mr Conboy’s injuries was then submitted to the court and it was highlighted that he had received injuries to his face and head; right and left hand and his left knee as a direct result of the assault by the accused.
The court also heard that the injured party’s table was damaged during the altercation as was a pair of curtains and a holy picture that was hanging on the wall.
Mr Conboy, the court was told, suffered from depression and insomnia and was forced to take medication to deal with this.
“He also gets serious headaches and has suffered from these since the incident,” added Mr Dockery BL.
“Mr Conboy says that he is lucky to be alive.”
Meanwhile, in mitigation, Mr Connolly BL on behalf of the accused said that his client offered an unconditional apology to Mr Conboy and was genuinely remorseful over what had happened.
“Mr Norton should never have taken the law into his own hands; he knows that now,” the defence barrister continued.
“He is very apologetic over what has happened and knows that it should never have happened in the first instance.
“There can never be any justification with a person doing this to another.
“Mr Norton accepts that this is the case but he does hope that the level of provocation will put this matter into context.”
Meanwhile, the court heard that the accused never intended to kill or maime the injured party.
“I think that this was more about lashing out by Mr Norton,” Mr Connolly BL added.
“He has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction but is a man with character and this is impressed by the way in which he now manages his heroin addiction.
“He was ferociously provoked by what had happened - the matter of which has already been dealt with by the courts; the red mist descended, so to speak.”
During his deliberations on the matter, Judge Johnson took the provocation element of the case before him into serious consideration.
He also pointed out that the matter he was deliberating on was a “serious offence”.
“An offence of this nature would carry a serious custodial sentence; people should feel safe in their own homes,” he fumed, before pointing out that he was prepared to impose a sentence of five years and six months but would suspend it and allow Mr Norton time to gather compensation. He also imposed a number of conditions and before concluding proceedings, the Judge ordered the accused to appear back before him next November.