Belfast Telegraph

Ex-INLA thug O'Hare jailed for false imprisonment and joining in on vicious assault

Dessie 'the border fox' O'Hare arrives for a court hearing in Dublin last week
Dessie 'the border fox' O'Hare arrives for a court hearing in Dublin last week

By Andrew Phelan

Former INLA man Dessie 'the border fox' O'Hare has been jailed for seven years for his part in the assault of one man and the false imprisonment of another during the eviction of a family from their Dublin home.

Sentencing the defendant, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said O'Hare had been a "frontman" in the intimidation of a family and an "enthusiastic participant" in a "vicious assault".

He said the "violent side" of his personality was "not in remission" and the threat to society posed by his "disposition to violence" had not completely abated.

O'Hare (62), of Slate Rock Road in Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to assaulting John Roche, causing him harm, at The Towers, Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, on June 9, 2015. He also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne at Rathcoole and Saggart on the same date.

At a non-jury Special Criminal Court yesterday, O'Hare was given a 10-year sentence for false imprisonment, with three years suspended, and a concurrent three-year sentence for the assault charge.

The court heard O'Hare told gardai he was employed by businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr to evict the family. Mr Byrne worked for the late Jim Mansfield Snr, who owned the Citywest Hotel and other businesses.

He also lived in a house at The Towers on the complex, which became the subject of a dispute involving Jim Mansfield Jnr.

The court heard Mr Mansfield Jnr went with Mr Byrne to a meeting with two former INLA members - O'Hare and convicted murderer Declan Duffy - and that when Mr Mansfield left the room, five more men came in and blocked Mr Byrne.

Mr Byrne was forced into a car, assaulted and brought to his home. He pleaded with O'Hare to be given a few days to leave The Towers voluntarily, but O'Hare refused and told him he was to "get out right now".

The court was shown CCTV footage of Mr Byrne's wife, Lisa, and her son being escorted by the gang of men from their home. Ms Byrne had been ordered upstairs to get dressed while a man stood watching.

The footage also showed the gang of seven men assaulting John Roche, who had earlier refused to let them on to the premises. He was punched, kicked and stamped on while on the ground and O'Hare could be seen kicking him four times.

Yesterday, presiding judge Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with two other judges, listed the aggravating factors, which included O'Hare's "appalling" and "serious previous criminal record".

Mr Roche suffered wounds to his face and scalp, including a fracture to his nose, extensive facial swelling and bruising, and a displaced fracture to a bone in his right arm.

Mr Justice Hunt said O'Hare was an "enthusiastic participant".

The judge referred to the "sinister manner" in which Mr Byrne's wife was threatened that her husband would be attacked in the same manner as Mr Roche.

The accused was a "frontman" in an enterprise to intimidate Mr Byrne and his family, the judge said.

The court had no doubt the reputations of O'Hare and Duffy would have been well known to Mr Byrne, who had a background in security.

When Mr Byrne did not "take the hint" from the menacing tone of a first meeting, it progressed to false imprisonment and violence.

While O'Hare's actions were primarily directed toward Mr Roche, he continued to play a "supervisory role" in the imprisonment of Mr Byrne, Mr Justice Hunt continued.

There was a "very disturbing victim impact statement", which showed the damage done to the Byrne family was significant, ongoing and had a permanent aspect. Family members were still under witness protection, he said. O'Hare led the attack on Mr Roche, while Duffy followed, he said, and he led the removal of the Byrnes from their home.

In mitigation, the judge accepted that the accused had pleaded guilty, which had been of "some value", with witnesses not required to give evidence. He had made a written expression of remorse which the court was "prepared to accept as genuine".

But he added: "We don't accept the offending can be viewed as isolated. The transgressions in the case indicate that the violent side of Mr O'Hare's personality is not in remission. The threat represented to society by Mr O'Hare's disposition to violence has not completely abated."

O'Hare, wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, replied "yes" when asked if he understood the terms of the suspended portion of the sentence.

O'Hare has four previous convictions for offences including possession of a firearm in 1977 and assaulting a garda in 1979.

He was given a 40-year jail sentence in 1988 for false imprisonment and assault causing grievous bodily harm. As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, he was released from that sentence in October 2008.

Former republican paramilitary Duffy was jailed for six years last year after pleading guilty to assaulting John Roche. He also admitted falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne.

Three other men have also been jailed for the attack.

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