Donegal man who was part of gang who attempted to petrol bomb home escapes prison

The five men also attacked a stag party on a bus

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Drunk driver with 84 previous convictions who struck garda in Donegal given three year suspended sentence

Letterkenny Courthouse

A Donegal man who was part of a gang that carried out an attempted petrol bomb attack on a house and attacked a bus carrying a stag party has escaped a prison sentence.
Paul Sweeney (27) of Rooskey, Manorcunningham, admitted the offences which were carried out in September 2009 when he was 19-years-old.
Four co-accused were previously before the court and Sweeney had not appeared at a previous hearing as he was in Australia at the time.
Letterkenny Circuit Court heard that on the night of September 6th, 2009, three young men were seen running away from a house at Croagh Patrick in Letterkenny after the owner was woken by breaking glass .
Garda Derek Connaughton said the occupant of the house saw the three men running from an alley beside the house and phoned gardaí. One of the men was carrying a hammer.
When he went downstairs he saw broken glass and what he thought were two petrol bombs that had not ignited.
The items were sent for analysis and it was determined that they were the components of an improvised incendiary device.
On the same night two men from Co. Fermanagh who were on a bus as part of a stag party were attacked.
Five men arrived in a car and attacked the bus on the town’s Port Road breaking windows using a crossbar and a wheel brace. Fingerprints belonging to a co-accused, Alan Parke, were found on the bus.
Counsel for the State Patricia McLaughlin (BL) said the five men tried to get on the bus. Sweeney swung a wheel brace and hit one man, injuring him on the leg. 
One of the men on his bus suffered injuries to his hand as he tried to prevent the accused getting onto the bus.
Sweeney was arrested and interviewed on five occasions. He initially denied any involvement but eventually admitted his role.
The court heard Sweeney had previous convictions for minor public order matters.
Defence counsel, Fiona Crawford (BL) said Sweeney has been working in Australia and London since 2012. She said he came back voluntarily last year. On the night Sweeney was a member of a group of young fellas “running around Letterkenny causing havoc”.
She said he has mellowed in the eights years since the incidents and is now a mature 27-year-old.
Judge O’Hagan said he was quite taken aback when he heard the original evidence at a previous sitting. “They literally ran riot on the night and carried out a series of senseless crimes terrifying all before them,” he said.
He said he would impose the same sentence that had been imposed on the co-defendants.
The judge sentenced Sweeney to two years in prison for assault causing harm but substituted it with 240 hours community service. He imposed the same sentence for criminal damage to the bus and attempted arson. All three sentences are to run concurrently.