18 Jan 2022

Louth man jailed for his role in abduction

Louth man jailed for his role in  abduction

Louth gardai who received a 999 call about a man being abducted forced entry to a house to find the victim crouched in a bath and covered in blood, a court has heard.

Dean Thornton (23), was yesterday, Friday, March 5th, jailed for three years for his role in the offence.

He was described in court as not  being one of the ring leaders in the attack.

Thornton, with an address at Beechwood Drive, Marley's Lane, Drogheda, Co Louth pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Aaron Rochford at the Moneymore Estate, Drogheda on November 11, 2018.

Gardai were policing the estate on the night in question as there were heightened tensions as a result of an ongoing feud. After a 999 call outlined serious concerns for the safety of a man described as being “abducted”, the armed support unit breached the front door of a house in the estate.

Mr Rochford, then 22 years old, was found by gardai in a state of shock, unclothed in a bathtub and covered in blood having sustained a broken jaw and slash wounds to his upper torso and head.

The court heard Mr Rochford has since passed away in circumstances completely unrelated to this case.

His grandmother Mary Rochford said Aaron was a “lovable rogue” and described going to see him in the hospital, where he was kept for a week.

She said her “heart stopped beating” because she was so upset at how he looked with bruises, cuts, blood and wires everywhere.

Judge Martin Nolan said Thornton had been involved in a “rather nasty and serious assault.”

He said every crime had a context but mob rule and mob law had no place in Drogheda or any other part of the country and Thornton should not have involved himself.

Judge Nolan said the principle mitigation in the case was the guilty plea and expression of remorse. He noted Thornton did co-operate with arrest and had ambitions to reform himself.

He said the case fell at the higher end but Thornton was entitled to some discount. He noted the court was constrained to some degree by the maximum sentence of five years for this offence.

Judge Nolan imposed a three year sentence with credit to be given for time already spent in custody.

Seamus Clarke SC, defending, said it was a distressing case with nasty wounds inflicted. He noted the wounds were superficial in nature but said that did not take away from the number of them.

He handed in testimonials on his client's behalf as well as a “heartfelt” letter of apology.

Thornton outlined in the letter that he had been exposed to criminal conduct in the area he came from and was led down the wrong path. He said on release he will not engage in criminal conduct and will remain drug free.

He apologised to the family of Mr Rochford.

Mr Clarke asked the court to take into account his clients' guilty plea, the difficulty of serving time in prison in Covid times and the fact he had used his time in custody well to gain qualifications.

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