A man behind a plan to rob a businessman, who begged to be shot after being badly beaten by men who claimed they were in the Continuity IRA, has been jailed for two years at the Special Criminal Court.
Mayo businessman Edward McAndrew was set upon in a “barbaric” attack by men who beat him with iron bars, demanded money and robbed him at a remote location in Co Louth in 2017.
Last month, William Twomey (58), with an address at Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down, was found guilty at the non-jury court of robbery, assault and of demanding money with menaces from Mr McAndrew in Co Louth in December 2017.
However, Galwayman Twomey was found not guilty of falsely imprisoning Mr McAndrew by detaining him without his consent at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth, on or about December 2nd, 2017.
Mr McAndrew, who was also put in the boot of a car, had been lured to Omeath by the gang on the pretence that the men had some plant machinery to sell to him, a plan Twomey put into motion by emailing Mr McAndrew under a false name.
At today’s sentencing, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that Twomey was the “initiator of a joint enterprise” but that “results went well beyond” what the defendant had contemplated.
The judge said that assault causing harm carried a maximum of five years’ imprisonment but fixed two years as a headline sentence. Regarding the offences of robbery and demanding money with menaces, Mr Justice Hunt fixed four years’ imprisonment as a headline sentence.
Mr Justice Hunt said there was an unusual mitigating factor in the case in that Twomey had told a garda he believed Mr McAndrew to be in danger. However, the garda had only been provided with “some but not all of the details” of what had happened after Twomey “realised which way the wind was blowing”.
Fall from grace
The judge then fixed three years imprisonment each for the offences of robbery and the demanding of money by Twomey. The judge said that the court was taking into account Twomey’s age and that it would be “a shock to the system” for the defendant to be jailed in what he described as a “considerable fall from grace”.
Mr Justice Hunt said that father-of-one Twomey had been a successful financial adviser until financial circumstances led him into the company he kept and then the direction he then travelled.
He described Twomey as someone who had personal, academic and business success and was someone who had “considerable capacities” to do good. The judge also noted positive testimonials from family and friends of Twomey and described him as a “very good father to his only son”.
Mr Justice Hunt said that Twomey had “substantial and solid” plans for the future and said that he hoped Twomey would “leave this dark chapter of his life in the past”.
The judge then suspended the last year on each of the robbery and demanding money with menaces offences for two years, jailing Twomey for two years on each of the three charges concurrently. He also backdated the sentence to August 29th last, when Twomey was first taken into custody.
Twomey then signed a €100 bond and acknowledged himself bound to the peace for two years upon his release from jail.
Earlier on Monday, the three-judge court heard from Detective Inspector Padraig Boyce who told prosecution counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor SC that Twomey had come from a “highly educated” background and that he accepted that Twomey was not a member of the Continuity IRA.
Det Insp Boyce said that Twomey had nine previous convictions, mostly of a road traffic nature, but also had a burglary conviction from 1984. The detective said that Twomey had one child from a previous marriage and that he had attended UCG and Clongowes College.
Defence Counsel Dominic McGinn SC said that his client’s “downfall” had been due to the failure of property deals in which he was involved, after which Twomey’s marriage failed, and that he then began drinking. Mr McGinn said that Twomey then found himself in bars and in the company of people with whom he would not usually associate.
Counsel added that Twomey now had a business opportunity in Mauritania with a fishing group and that he would be required to travel to do business in the future regarding an Irish fishing vessel.
Mr McGinn said that what Twomey did was, he accepted, “incredibly stupid” and that this “aberration” will cause Twomey “reputational damage”.
Twomey was found guilty of assault causing harm to Mr McAndrew, of demanding £50,000 with menaces and of robbing him of his car keys, £200, a travel bag and its contents, a wallet and its contents, a briefcase, two mobiles phones and an Irish passport at Omeath on the same date. Twomey and an acquitted co-accused, Thomas McGuinness, had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Mr McGuinness (34), of Chestnut Court, Johnstown, Navan, Co Meath was acquitted of all charges on September 30th last at the Special Criminal Court.
In December of last year, Anthony Finglas, then aged 49, also with an address at Havelock Place, was jailed for four years and nine months after he pleaded guilty to demanding money with menaces from Mr McAndrew in Omeath.
The court previously heard that during the attack, Mr McAndrew was so badly beaten that he begged to be shot.
In her closing speech, Ms Lawlor had said that Twomey was responsible for initiating contact by email with Mr McAndrew making it “amenable to those who inflicted injuries on Mr McAndrew under false pretences”.
Ms Lawlor said that in his direct evidence Twomey had been “ludicrously unreliable” regarding matters of fact in the case.