Church poor box robber launched vicious attack on pensioner at church

Church poor box robber launched vicious attack on pensioner at church
David O'Donovan at Cork Court in March 2018. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts.

AN 80-year-old man who reprimanded a much younger man for stealing from a poor box in a church was kicked in the groin and had his eye gouged and punched by the culprit.

David O’Donovan, aged 41, who is originally from a respectable family in Monkstown, County Cork, faced sentencing yesterday for the attack on the elderly man.

The victim, Robert Duggan, told him he was in the house of God and to stop what he was doing.

Detective Garda Padraig Harrington said O’Donovan responded by saying, “F*** you and f*** the church.

He then counted down 4-3-2-1 and kicked him in the groin area.

Mr Duggan went down on one knee.

“He (O’Donovan) knocked his glasses off. He gouged his eye and punched him in the same eye.”

A Polish lady attending the mass came to the assistance of the 80-year-old local man who was attacked by the heroin addict.

“The Polish lady later identified him (the defendant) to me at Centra, approximately one hour later,” Det Garda Harrington said.

She had followed Duggan from the church at a safe distance and seen him enter the shop.

Mr Duggan was at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to give evidence of how this affected him.

In many years volunteering at St Augustine’s church on Grand Parade, Mr Duggan said, “I have come across people under the influence of drink or drugs and people who are depressed but never anything like this.

“Thankfully he did not have a knife. I am sure he would have used it if he had one.

“My glasses fell to the ground during this and he deliberately stamped on them.

“It knocked my confidence back. I will continue doing the position in church as long as God gives me the strength. It is a wonderful position to be in in the church.”

David O’Donovan was arrested by Detective Garda Harrington and brought to the Bridewell garda station for questioning. However, O’Donovan, with an address at 6 Glendalough, Grenville Place, Cork, had to have his questioning suspended for six hours because of his state of intoxication.

The detective said that unfortunately, the injured party was not given any medical attention at the Mercy University Hospital despite waiting for seven hours after that Saturday evening mass. The detective said he contacted the CEO of the hospital the next morning and she arranged to have the injured party seen immediately.

Nikki O’Sullivan, defence barrister, said that even though the accused had 22 previous convictions, he had none for violence.

She said he expressed remorse for his actions, and was surprised when it was outlined to him what he had done in the church when intoxicated.

Det Garda Harrington said his main problem with the actions of the accused was that if he did perceive some threat from the elderly man he had seen off this threat by kicking him in the groin, but that thereafter he had carried out a sustained assault by gouging Mr Duggan’s eye and punching him in the same eye.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he would adjourn sentencing until November 23 to see what rehabilitation could be put in place and, to that end, a report from the addiction counsellor in prison was directed.

O’Donovan will be sentenced then on the charge of assault causing harm to Mr Duggan at St. Augustine’s church, Grand Parade, Cork, on Saturday evening, March 24.

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