February 3, 2015

Two young men who tied up and robbed a young woman after watching a movie have been remanded in jail by a judge to allow him time to consider their punishment.

Letterkenny Court.

Letterkenny Court.

Lee McLaughlin, and James Leedham, were part of a three man gang who terrorised two young women in a house robbery in Inishowen.

The gang forced their way into the house at The Mullins in Carndonagh in broad daylight on September 29th, 2013.

The men had their faces hidden and had also brought an imitation firearm to the house.

Two young women in the house were watching television at around 1.45pm in the afternoon when the gang struck.

One of the women Shannon Doherty managed to escape through a window but another woman, Danielle Doherty, who was 20, was held captive by the raiders.

McLaughlin, 20, tied Ms Doherty’s hands with a cable-tie and put duct tape on her mouth to stop her from screaming.

The gang tried to put her into a wardrobe but she refused to go into it.

They eventually stole 36 packets of cigarettes, 6 packets of loose tobacco and €58 in cash which they put into a rucksack which they had brought with them.

However the men were chased by some neighbours who had ben alerted to the robbery by Ms Doherty who had escaped earlier.

They managed to flee through fields but were eventually apprehended by Gardai.

The court heard the gang had planned the robbery after watching a video the previous night.

One of the men, Lee McLaughlin of Station Road, Carndonagh, said he did not even smoke and did not know why he carried out the robbery.

He knew Ms Doherty from a young age but could not remember her but said he was deeply sorry for what he had done to her.

Barrister Charlotte Simpson told the court that McLaughlin had suffered at the hands of his father who had been very violent towards his, his other siblings and their mother.

He had held a gun to their heads and had stubbed cigarettes out on them.

Because his mother could not cope, he had been placed in foster care and had done quite well but did have mental health issues.

James Leedham, 18, of Allendale Park, Buncrana, said he had been refused entry to the army on health grounds at he time of the robbery and was having serious issues accepting this.

Leedham’s father Daryl gave evidence of how his son’s arrest for the crime was like being stabbed in the heart because he had never been in trouble before.

He said he had relations in the UK in the hotel industry and his son was planning to get employment there if he got a second chance from the courts.

Both Leedham and McLaughlin had pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and aggravated burglary.

Another member of the gang, Jason Bonner of Aghilly, Buncrana, had been jailed for 30 months but had that sentence suspended for 3 years, when he appeared before Judge Matthew Deery.

Victim Danielle Doherty told Letterkenny Circuit Court she was still suffering from the attack and had to lock all the doors in her house if she was home alone.

Judge John O’Hagan said he was in disbelief at the men’s actions.

His said the situation was ‘comical and ludicrous’ but did not take away from the fear suffered by Danielle Doherty.

He added that the fact that the offenses carried carried a maximum sentence of life in prison reflected how serious they were.

He said he would take time to read the reports on both men and said he would remand both men in prison until Friday to allow them to reflect on their actions.