Three young Inishowen men broke into the home of a businessman before tying up two young girls and threatening them with a fake gun.
Jason Bonner, 19, and two other accomplices burst into the house in Carndonagh on September29th last before taping the mouths and hands of one of the girls.
The young gang believed there was a substantial amount of tobacco and cash in the house which belonged to Patrick Pembroke of The Mullins, Carndonagh.
However, when the men broke into the house, the owner wasn’t present, but his grand-daughter Daniella Doherty and her friend Shannon Doherty were inside the house.
Daniella Doherty opened the door and it was then forced in by one of the other men.
She was thrown to the ground and had her hands, mouth and head taped.
The men told the girls they had a gun, although the court heard that gun was never produced to the girls.
It was later discovered by Gardaí that the gun the men had with them during the robbery was an imitation firearm.
While Daniella Doherty lay bound on the ground, Shannon Doherty was told to put tobacco and money into a bag which the thieves had brought with them.
The men frantically searched the house, but found only six packets of cigarettes and just €58 in cash.
However, Shannon Doherty managed to escape from the house and was able to raise the alarm.
Members of her family then apprehended Jason Bonner of Aghilly, Buncrana and kept him under restraint until Gardaí arrived at the scene and arrested him.
Frank Bonner, the father of the accused, said the nature of the crime and the repercussions of the robbery has had a profound effect on his son and the entire family.
He said, “As a family we’ve just been left devastated by what happened. We just couldn’t believe Jason had been involved in this sort of crime.
“It left us dumbfounded, and it absolutely disgraced our entire family. The pain and trauma the two girls suffered as a result of the robbery is just tragic.”
When quizzed as to whether or not his son had any remorse for his part in the robbery, Mr Bonner said his remorse was total and genuine.
“Jason is coming to terms with what he done, and he knows it was a terrible thing he was a part of. He is totally remorseful for his actions.
“That doesn’t make everything ok, but I know he’s deeply sorry for what he’s done and his remorse is total and genuine.”
Mr Bonner also revealed his son had tried to take his own life and he had been forced to get psychiatric help for his son.
“I’m not looking for sympathy for Jason, he has to be held accountable for his actions. But we were so worried about him we had him signed into a mental institution.
“He was self-harming and had made attempts to take his own life, we were so worried about him and we realise he needs psychological support.
“He needs to be involved in something active during the week, and needs to speak to a mental health professional once-a-week.”
Barrister Damien Crawford said the Bonner family are a decent hard working family and the actions of their son had caused them great distress and embarrassment.
He said the accused was remorseful for his actions and asked to pen a letter to his victims, but was advised not to do it, he also offered them €2,000 as compensation for his actions.
He also appealed against a custodial sentence for his client, saying that he needs specialist help from medical professionals, and with the support of his loving family can help turn his life around.
Judge Matthew Deery said the men were out of their depth and didn’t fully understand the seriousness of the crime they were about to commit.
“They didn’t expect the girls to be there, and Shannon Doherty and Daniella Doherty have been deeply affected by the ordeal.
“Daniella Doherty probably suffered greater trauma because she was bound, but both were subjected to awful ordeals.
“I’m taking into account by what was said by Mr Crawford and I’m satisfied listening to their evidence that they’ll be able to help Jason to stop re-offending,” he said.
He jailed Bonner for two and a half years but suspended the sentence and ordered him to keep the peace for three years.
The two other men will be dealt with after having their cases adjourned until December.