Judge recieved angry letters from public for jailing robber

A judge has revealed how he received angry letters from the public because he did not jail a man who took part in a number of armed robberies in West Donegal.

Judge John O’Hagan sentenced Tadhg McKelvey to a total of 17 years in prison for various charges including attempted robbery and carrying a firearm with criminal intent.

However he replaced the concurrent jail sentence with an order that McKelvey do 240 hours community service.

McKelvey was part of a three man gang which terrorised and robbed businesses in West Donegal during 2009 using a knife and a gun.

Judge John O’Hagan revealed yesterday how he received a backlash from the public because he chose not to impose a custodial sentence on McKelvey.

He revealed the case evoked quite an outcry when McKelvey was given a suspended sentence. The Judge said that people wrote letters to him personally expressing their displeasure.

The second member of the gang, 21-year-old Paul McEleney, appeared before Judge O’Hagan at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday also charged in connection with the robberies.

McEleney, of Middle Dora, Bunbeg, pleaded guilty to his part in the robberies of Gallagher’s Topaz Service station in Derrybeg on February 7th, 2009, McDevitt’s Service Station in Dungloe on February 13th and the Templecrone Co-op in Annagry on February 26th.

The court heard how McEleney had played an active part in the robberies but had suffered from a dependence on drink and drugs.

Since the robberies however, he had turned his life around and was fully supported by his parents.

Judge O'Hagan sentenced McEleney to four years on each of the three attempted robbery charges and five years for carrying a firearm with criminal intent with all sentences to run concurrently.

However he suspended the sentence for five years and ordered McEleney to keep the peace for that time.