A convicted murderer who attacked and imprisoned an elderly woman and two priests in their homes while on temporary release from prison has been given an eight-year jail term.
Richard Kearney, 42, also briefly falsely imprisoned his former prison chaplain in her home bathroom during a spate of offending in March 2023, when he was on temporary release, or release on licence from his life sentence, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
Kearney was jailed for life in 2001 for the murder of a 72-year-old woman who was found beaten to death in her Finglas home in 1998. He was granted temporary release after serving 21 years of his sentence.
While on temporary release in March last year, Kearney briefly locked his former prison chaplain in her bathroom.
Nine days later, he forced his way into the home of an elderly lady and robbed and assaulted her, before attacking and falsely imprisoning two priests in Clondalkin, Co Dublin.
Kearney tried to choke one of the priests, 74, while the other priest, 86, broke his hip during the attack and remains in rehabilitation, the court heard.
Kearney, of Kilcronan Court, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to 10 counts comprising four counts of false imprisonment, three counts of assault causing harm, two counts of robbery and one threat to kill at various locations in Dublin on 6 March and 15 March, 2023.
‘Greatly affected by the attacks’
Sentencing Kearney today, Judge Martin Nolan said that “for reasons known only to himself, he approached these people, entered their property, attacked them, terrified them and falsely imprisoned them”.
The evidence was somewhat similar to the facts of the murder for which Kearney was convicted in 2001, the judge said.
He noted the victims were quite elderly and not in a position to resist or defend themselves. He said they were greatly affected by the attacks.
Judge Nolan handed down an eight-year prison sentence, which he backdated to last March. Kearney has been back in custody since these offences, when his temporary release was revoked.
The court heard that the Parole Board will deal separately with him in relation to the fact he was on temporary release when he committed the offences.
Detective garda Cian Logan told Oisín Clarke BL, prosecuting, that in March 2023, Kearney got in touch with a former prison chaplain and told her he needed cash.
She gave him €50, but he returned to her home on March 6 and took her two phones, before falsely imprisoning her in her downstairs toilet for a period of time.
He released her after a short period of time, gave her back her phones and left her home, the court heard. He sent her a text later that night saying he was “so sorry” for frightening her and that she had been nothing but good to him.
Nine days later, Kearney knocked on the door of an 86-year-old woman at an address in Clondalkin under the guise of selling a fire guard, before he pushed his way in and assaulted her, the court heard.
Kearney ripped off her emergency panic button during the assault and threatened to kill her, before locking her in her house using her house keys and making off with a sum of cash.
Footage from the woman’s Ring doorbell showed her pleading with Kearney not to lock her inside her home, the court heard. She was extremely shaken from the attack and had bruising to her hand, but did not require medical attention.
Kearney then made his way to The Presbytery, Bawnogue, Clondalkin where he talked to one priest in his office for about 20 minutes before he suddenly attacked him, attempting to choke him with his sleeve.
When the 86-year-old priest came to help his colleague, he was knocked to the floor, breaking his hip. The 74-year-old priest had a tooth knocked out and suffered facial injuries in the attack.
Kearney locked both priests in the office and made off with one phone and a sum of cash. They were able to phone a friend who then came to their aid.
Gardaí were tipped off as to Kearney’s whereabouts and found him in a garden shed of his home address.
They identified him from the Ring doorbell footage. The prison chaplain then separately made a complaint to gardaí about Kearney’s actions in her house.
A number of victim impact statements were handed into court, but not read aloud.
Kearney has four previous convictions, the most serious of which is for murder. A report before the court found he is at a high risk of re-offending.
Garret McCormack BL, defending, said his client was on numerous drugs at the time of the offending. He said his client was extremely upset when he was shown the footage from doorbell and is remorseful for his actions. He says he has little memory of events that day.
Mr McCormack said Kearney had put his victims through a “horrific ordeal” and he handed in letters of apology.