A CORK man who got a fourteen-year jail term for crimes including the robbery of a 79-year-old woman causing her horrific life-changing injuries had one year reduced from his sentence on appeal today.
Jonathan Duggan, 29, was told at the Court of Criminal Appeal today that his total sentence would now stand at 13 years.
Duggan muttered that it was hardly worth his while when the decision was taken on his appeal.
Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said the 79-year-old was dropped to her front gate by a taxi-driver after visiting her brother who was terminally ill and that as she walked to her front door, Duggan grabbed her handbag, pushed her to the ground leaving her with life-changing injuries, where she was hospitalised for two months, had rib fractures and lost her voice.
The judge said it was the most serious of a number of charges – otherwise including theft and burglary – to which Duggan pleaded guilty.
Niamh Stewart the appellant’s barrister asked the judges of the Court of Criminal Appeal to give Duggan some light at the end of the tunnel.
They suspended the last year of the total sentence of 14 years imposed at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Brian O’Callaghan.
Judge O’Callaghan said: “This lady’s life was turned upside down and inside out and every other way you could imagine. By your selfish, greedy actions this lady suffered nothing but horrific and appalling times following your visitation to her on that day.
“There may have been some remorse for the damage you did to his lovely old lady of 79 years of age,” Judge O’Callaghan said.
Detective Garda Alan Johnson who investigated the robbery said the 79-year-old was just walking up to her home in Gurranabraher when Duggan, 29, grabbed her from behind.
She was knocked to the ground and suffered injuries including three broken ribs and four fractures to her pelvis.
The victim said: “My vocal chords and airway were damaged from the fall and due to deteriorating health I had to undergo an operation to have a tracheotomy tube inserted into my neck so I could breathe properly again. I have this permanently now and it has severely affected my quality of life.
“I am now dependent on my family as I cannot manage my needs on my own. This attack has taken my independence and that cannot be forgiven.”
Ms Stewart BL defense barrister said: “He is a young man. He is only 29 years old. At an early age, he was been involved in drugs and has been in and out of custody.
“He did this to feed his addiction – a chronic heroin addiction. He apologised three or four times during interview with gardaí.
“He said, ‘It makes me feel sick. I would not want that to happen to my mother or grandmother.’ He is extremely remorseful.”
Judge O’Callaghan said: “You have a sense of entitlement from your fellow citizens, that they should be looking after you rather than the other way around. You accept only partial responsibility."
“You justify by saying you were stoned on drugs. You said all you wanted was her handbag and did not push her. You wanted her belongings to maintain your lifestyle and demonstrated poor victim empathy. In conclusion, your probation officer said you have not engaged in any effort to break your cycle of crime and drugs."
"That is a great pity for you and a great pity for your victims.”
In suspending one year of the 14-year sentence, Ms Justice said today that this was to encourage the breaking of the cycle of drugs, crime and jail.
Jonathan Duggan from Ballinderry Park in Mayfield in Cork admitted the robbery on October 22, 2018, and thefts and a burglary occurring on Sept 27, 2018.