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JAILED FOR HAMMER ASSAULT ON PRIEST; Vicious teens get 13yrs for horror attack during raid.

Byline: By OLIVIA KELLEHER

TWO teen thugs who hit a priest over the head with a hammer and then tied him up with phone cable were jailed yesterday.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Fr Gerry Cremin, 51, was asleep when raiders broke in to the house at Arderrin Way, The Glen, Cork, last December.

William Nolan, 19, and 18-year-old Stephen Casey, both from Comeragh Park, The Glen, Cork, assaulted the priest and demanded valuables and cash.

Vicious Nolan was jailed for eight years and Casey for five years.

The court heard Nolan hit the priest with a lump hammer and threatened to break his legs.

Supt Martin Shanahan said the attackers tied Fr Cremin to his bed before rampaging through the house looking for money.

The court heard that the terrified victim had pleaded not to be tied up as he was afraid he would bleed to death.

Supt Shanahan said the pair were "totally aggressive" towards Fr Cremin, with Nolan described as the ringleader.

They took EUR2,500, which was the church collection takings, a laptop computer and several personal items.

The priest eventually managed to free himself and raise the alarm. He was taken to hospital and needed stitches for a serious head wound.

Nolan and Casey were arrested three weeks later as a result of fingerprint evidence from the house. Gardai told Judge Sean O'Donnabhain that Nolan was also before the court in relation to an aggravated burglary in July 2004.

Det Sgt Joe Moore said Nolan was one of two people who had broken into a house at Thomas Kent Park in the city in the early hours of July 5.

The raiders went to a bedroom, put a gun to a man's head and demanded money.

They got a small quantity of cash and then went to the bedroom of another man in the same house and put a gun to his head, leaving the room with EUR100, a DVD player and a mobile phone.

Det Sgt Moore said: "They then told the injured party they would, 'blow his f***ing head off'.

"The two raiders threatened both men they would come back that night and shoot them if they called gardai.""

The court also heard that Nolan had previously received a three-year suspended sentence for an attack on a Chinese man in Cork city.

It was suspended to allow Nolan to gain treatment for a drug problem.

Nolan's mother gave evidence that her son initially seemed to be getting off drugs.

But he received a EUR20,000 settlement for a compensation case dating back to a childhood accident and went on a drink and drugs binge. Father-of-one Casey said he had let his community and family down with the "devious crime" against the priest."

He added: "I never thought I would bring myself so low. I have no recollection of my movements on that night. I hope Fr Cremin will forgive me.""

Casey's barrister Tom Creed said his client was remorseful for his actions.

Nolan's defence counsel John Edwards said his client was one of nine children from a disadvantaged background.

He described Nolan as a "chronic drug addict" who understood that he would have to receive a custodial sentence in relation to his crimes.

However, he said his client had joined Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous and was hopeful of beating his addictions.

In sentencing Nolan, Judge O'Donnabhain said: "You have shown yourself to be a dangerous, violent, repeat criminal with no regard for the safety of others.""

The judge told Casey that he was an "active participant" in the assault on Fr Cremin and recommended that Casey obtain counselling in prison.

Fr Cremin left his home following the attack, which the court heard had deeply upset him. It was the second such incident on a priest there in recent years.

Three men were convicted and jailed following a similar crime against the then curate Fr David Murphy in 1996.

CAPTION(S):

THUG: Nolan was sentenced to eight years; DEVIOUS: Casey leaving court yesterday after getting five years; VICTIM: Fr Cremin, left, and his home
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2005
Words:682
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