A teenager who broke into a young woman’s home and subjected her to a “terrifying ordeal” while armed with a screwdriver has been jailed for just over four-and-a-half years.
Jamie Nulty (22) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Castaheany, Clonee, Dublin on July 15, 2017. He was 19 years old at the time.
Nulty, with an address in Pinewood Green Court, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Clonsilla Road, Clonsilla on February 17 in the same year. He was on bail for this offence when he broke into the home of Sarah Kearney in Clonee.
Sentencing Nulty on Monday, Judge Karen O’Connor said Nulty had subjected Ms Kearney to a “terrifying ordeal”, during which he grabbed her and threw her on the bed while threatening her with a weapon.
“This has had a significant impact on her and continues to have an impact on her,” Judge O’Connor said.
The judge took into account several mitigating factors, including Nulty’s youth, the fact he was homeless at the time of the offences and the fact he was struggling with drug addiction.
She handed down a sentence of five years and nine months, but suspended the final 14 months on a number of conditions. She backdated the four year, seven month sentence to take into account time Nulty has spent in custody.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Alan Gordon told the court that on the day in question, Ms Kearney was lying in bed at around 8am when she heard noises downstairs.
Ms Kearney initially assumed her mother, who she lived with, was making the noise before she remembered her mother had already left for work.
She was still lying in bed when her bedroom door opened and Nulty appeared armed with a screwdriver. He had broken in via a downstairs window, the court heard.
He demanded money and Ms Kearney told him there was no money in the house but that her handbag was downstairs. Nulty walked her down the stairs, holding the screwdriver at her back.
He took her bank card and PIN and continued to search the house while armed with the screwdriver. At one point he considered taking a computer and asked her for a carrier bag before she told him it was broken.
At one point when they were back upstairs, she got her phone and tried to dial 999, but he noticed and grabbed her arm before throwing her down on the bed.
Throughout the ordeal, Ms Kearney was extremely scared, the court heard. It came to an end when Nulty decided to leave, putting a tea towel on his head and jumping on a bike.
Ms Kearney alerted her neighbours and gardaí were called. Nulty was arrested at the local shops a short time later. He has 23 previous convictions.
In a victim impact statement handed into court, Ms Kearney said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the burglary and still finds it very difficult to be alone in the house.
“I don’t feel safe on my own,” she said. She suffered a loss of €1000 in lost earnings and therapy costs, the court heard.
Defence counsel Cathal McGreal BL, told the court: “It was a terrifying experience for Ms Kearney.”
He said Nulty was on drugs at the time and going through a period of homelessness. Mr McGreal submitted Nulty was under threat from individuals and had moved out of the home he shared with his mother and six siblings in order to protect them.
Nulty is now living back in the family home and has since had a baby son. He has not come to garda attention since this offence.
In relation to the dangerous driving offence, the court heard Nulty was driving a car with two other young men in the back when they were spotted acting suspiciously by an on-patrol garda. A pursuit ensued which ended when Nulty lost control of the car and struck a tree.
The three men were hospitalised but not seriously injured.