Co-accused of man who died from injuries sustained in prison cell attack is jailed

Gary Ibbotson 24 Jan 2023

By Declan Brennan

The co-accused of a man who died from injuries sustained in a violent prison cell attack last July has been sentenced to a two and half year prison term.

Luke Yates (21) was before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to attempting to impede the arrest of Robert O’Connor (34) during an incident in north Dublin on the night of October 12, 2021.

O’Connor of Snowdrop Darndale in Dublin, died in hospital after sustaining head injuries in a group attack.

He was attacked two days after he was sentenced for his involvement in the incident outlined yesterday.

In his evidence Detective Garda Sean Kelly told John Moher BL, prosecuting, that he was in a patrol car when he spotted Yates and O’Connor running along the road.

He said he followed the two men and observed both the suspects removing a top layer of their upper clothing to reveal another top.

Gardai moved in and stopped O’Connor who was holding a Tesco shopping bag with a semi-automatic pistol which had four rounds in the magazine and one in the breach.

O’Connor later pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of firearms and last July 27, he was jailed for six and a half years.

He was fatally attacked 48 hours later and died five days later in the Mater hospital.

At a sentence hearing yesterday Cathleen Noctor SC, defending, told Judge Martin Nolan that her client, Yates, has been in 23 hour lockup in custody since the fatal attack on O’Connor.

She said that after his arrest O’Connor told gardai that he was moving the firearm to discharge a drug debt.

She said her client had no knowledge of what was in the bag, which was in O’Connor’s possession at all times in the night.

Last November Yates of Maplewood Avenue, Springfield, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to assisting an offender by acting to impede the arrest of O’Connor by endeavouring to escape on foot.

The court heard that Yates’ previous convictions include seven for sale or supply of drugs, two for hit and run, three for possession of a mobile phone in custody and seven for dangerous driving.

Ms Noctor told the court that some of these offences were committed when her client was still a minor.

Judge Nolan said it was a serious offence to impede the arrest of a suspect. But he noted as mitigating factors the plea of guilty and Yates’ age at the time.

He imposed a prison sentence of two and a half years to date from October 12, 2021. He said he was also taking into consideration the fact that Yates is on lockup in prison.

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