Three years jail for lunchtime burglary at elderly man’s house
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Three years jail for lunchtime burglary at elderly man’s house

A burglar who told gardai he would not have broken into the home of an elderly man if he had known there was someone at home has been jailed for three years reports Fiona Ferguson.

Eddie Cawley (22) and a co-accused rang the doorbell and knocked on the front door at about lunchtime and, upon getting no answer, damaged the door to access the house.

The homeowners’ son had not answered the door because he was upstairs in the bathroom. He confronted one of the burglars on the stairs after hearing the noise and the men fled.

Cawley, of Daletree Place, Ballycullen, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at a residential address in Portmarnock on March 9, 2020. He has been in custody since May 2021.

Detective Garda James Carolan told Katherine McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that the elderly man was not home on the day, but his son was in the house. There was no car in the driveway.

The son heard the doorbell ring and a number of knocks on the door, but did not answer as he was in the bathroom.

He then heard a bang and believed it to be the front door being broken.

He rushed out of the bathroom and encountered a male with a claw hammer coming up the stairs.

There was a confrontation on the stairs in which the male swung the claw hammer at him, but did not make contact. He reacted and kicked out at the intruder who fled.

He followed the man outside and then realised there was a second male also present. The pair ran to a Nissan Almera nearby and fled from the scene. The man managed to record the car registration.

Gardai were alerted and a description of the car and men circulated.

A few minutes later the car was spotted by gardai on the Malahide Road and did not stop when signalled to do so.

Gardai gave chase and noted items being discarded from the car along the roadway. These were later recovered and found to be items of clothing and a wheel brace.

The car was brought to a stop by the driver and both men fled on foot but were arrested a short distance away.

Cawley made no comment during garda interview, but while being fingerprinted he told gardai that he would not have entered the house if he had known someone was home and said he had no weapon with him.

No items were taken from the house but there was damage to the front door. The man did not wish to make a victim impact statement.

Cawley has 27 previous convictions, including six previous burglaries.

Garda Carolan agreed with Carol Doherty BL, defending, that the guilty plea was of assistance to the court and injured party. He agreed Cawley has a partner and children, with a family life waiting for him at home eventually.

Ms Doherty said Cawley has been addressing his problems in custody and wishes to put evidence of that before court. She said he had a very difficult childhood.

Sentencing him on Monday, Judge Melanie Greally said the victim was at home but noted the house may have had the appearance of being unoccupied.

She said while Cawley did not make express admissions of committing the offence he did place himself at the scene and admitted knocking at the door, saying he believed no one was home.

She noted Cawley had said he had a wheel brace with him rather than a claw hammer, but said an implement had been taken into the house where a confrontation took place.

The judge gave him credit for his guilty plea which was accepted to be a relief to the injured party.

She referred to a probation report before the court which set out a number of difficulties Cawley has faced in his life including his history of drug addiction. She said she was accepting his claim to no longer be abusing drugs at face value as urine analysis she had ordered was not before the court.

Judge Greally took into account a history of mental health issues and noted recommendations he engage with appropriate services.

She agreed with the state assessment that the offence fell in the mid-range, noting it was a residential property, a weapon was brought, there was a physical confrontation and Cawley has previous convictions for burglary. She set a headline sentence of six years.

She took into account in mitigation factors including his co-operation and the disadvantages he had as a result of the environment in which he grew up.

Judge Greally imposed a sentence of four and a half years and suspended the final 18 months on strict conditions including 12 months probation supervision.

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