TWO Inishowen men who bound and gagged a young woman during an aggravated burglary have escaped a lengthy prison sentence after being incarcerated for four days.
Lee McLaughlin of Station Road, Carndonagh and James Leedham of 18 Allendale Park, Buncrana, were part of a three man gang who terrorised two young women in a house robbery in Carndonagh.
The men had pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court to false imprisonment and aggravated burglary on Monday last.
An angry Judge John O’Hagan deferred sentence until Friday, but sent both men to Castlerea Prison to reflect on what they had done.
The court heard how the gang forced their way into the house at The Mullins in Carndonagh in broad daylight on September 29, 2013. They used scarves and balaclavas to disguise their identity and also brought an imitation firearm to the house.
Two young women in the house were watching television at around 1.45pm in the afternoon when the gang struck.
One of the women, Shannon Doherty managed to escape through a window but another woman, Daniella Doherty, who was 20, was held captive by the raiders.
McLaughlin (20), tied Ms Doherty’s hands with a cable-tie and put duct tape on her mouth to stop her from screaming.
The gang tried to put her into a wardrobe but she refused to go in.
They eventually stole 36 packets of cigarettes, five pouches of loose tobacco and €58 in cash which they put into a rucksack which they had brought with them.
However the men were chased by some neighbours who had been alerted to the robbery by Ms Doherty who had escaped earlier.
They managed to flee through fields but were eventually apprehended by Gardai.
The court heard the gang had planned the robbery after watching a video the previous night.
Victim Daniella Doherty said she was still suffering from the attack and had to lock all the doors in her house if she was home alone.
Judge O’Hagan said if he had sentenced the men last Monday, they would have been looking at a lengthy jail term.
“The deviousness which they did it with was quite frightening – the taping of the mouth, using cable ties, attempting to put her in the wardrobe – it’s like something you would see in the movies.
“I really do hope the four days they have had in Castlerea was a time of reflection and that they should not wish to be there again,” he said.
He sentenced both men to three years imprisonment for each charge but suspended the sentences for three years and ordered them to be of good behaviour.