Householder Cleared on Charges of Assaulting Burglar

Leave aside any sympathy or disgust you may have for anyone in this trial, said Judge Griffin when instructing the jury.

The facts weren’t in dispute.  Martin McCaughey  had driven after a man and hit him twice with his car, breaking his legs.  All the jury had to decide was whether this constituted assault.

I suppose if this was all we knew, none of us would have the slightest hesitation in finding the accused man guilty, but of course, that’s not all there was to it.  The victim, Daniel McCormack, was running away from Mr McCaughey’s house after trying to commit a burglary, and McCaughey was following him, driving barefoot and wearing only boxer  shorts.   Gardai found McCormack lying on the ground with two broken legs and MCaughey waiting for their arrival.

This bastard was in my bedroom, me and my wife were there,  he told the police.  I hit him with the car.  He kept running and he wasn’t limping.  I hit him again in my car  and I squashed him between the railings and the car. He tried to move and couldn’t. I reversed then.

It was clear from callers to national radio where the nation’s sympathies lay and where the disgust was directed.  I heard no-one saying that McCaughey should have been jailed.  The consensus seemed to be that McCormack got what he deserved and it was only a pity McCaughey didn’t drive over him again.

Getting in touch with my inner vigilante, I must say I can relate to that.  There’s something very satisfying in the thought that a householder might have the balls to follow an intruder and smash the living shit out of him, in a time when most of us would be afraid the bastard might pull out a knife.  I once found myself having to deal with two burglars moving around downstairs in my home while my children slept in their beds, and I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that the experience remains for many years after the event.  I was lucky to have such good neighbours but I don’t know what I’d do if I found myself, like McCaughey, confronted by a burglar in my own bedroom.

I think he deserves great credit for jumping up and attacking the prick, who had no business in the house.

Of course, the fact that I approve of what he did doesn’t make it right, and there’s always a danger that we make logic and rule of law subordinate to our own atavistic rages.  I like to think that a householder would follow a burglar and run him down, or beat him to a pulp with a nail-studded cudgel.  Electrocute him. Set ravenous hyenas on him.  Dissolve him in acid. Burst his eyeballs. Shoot him with shit so he’d be dead and dirty.

All of the above, in a string of dirty filthy language.

But where do we go if everyone decides to exact revenge?  Are we back to the law of the jungle and is that necessarily a bad thing?  I don’t know.  Maybe there should be some sort of compromise where you can legally dismember a scumbag inside your own four walls, or in hot pursuit, but you can’t track him down and kill him at the side of the road like the dog he is.

What I find completely impossible to understand is the insurance award of €175,000 to the burglar for injuries sustained.  Why didn’t McCaughey immediately counter-sue for trauma, emotional distress or general downright pissed-offness?  Adding it all up, even taking into account the two broken legs, it wasn’t a bad return for a night’s outing.  After all, the thief might have been laid up for a couple of months, but it’s not as if he missed any gainful employment as a consequence.

It seems to me that any injury arising directly as a consequence of committing an unlawful act should never be cause for compensation.  What do you think?





27 replies on “Householder Cleared on Charges of Assaulting Burglar”

Was McCormac charged and convicted of burglary ? What sentence did he get ? Probably a few months with time off for good behaviour and a nice insurance nest-egg waiting for him when he gets out.

I’d say the insurance company will be looking for their money back and they are right to. Only the other day a woman was denied compensation because she was talking on her mobile.

I walked in on two skobe burglars in my bedroom a few years back.

“Jesus. You gave us a fright there,” says one of them.

I wasn’t in a position to drive over them.


Jesus; it is reported, suggested that the one in need be offered the coat off of your back as well – or something like that.
I’d like to believe that I’d at least have offered the guy a cup of coffee.

The law and by extention the judge is an ass. A burglar armed with a screw driver gets a suspended sentence. 100’s have been to prison for debt, but no charges against oul Seanie or Fingers. Judge Tom O’Donnell instructed a jury to use thgeir common sense when deliberating on the case of a man who discharged a shot gun when confronted with 3 scumbags outside his home. He walked free, sense it seems prevailed.

He did not counter sue because there was no policy to pay out. The home owner had an insure policy and the burglar most likely has not an asset to his name and policy to claim against.

The Insurance Company should never had paid out anything until this trial was completed. I’m assuming the compensation was paid out on the Motor Policy and Mr McCaughey will have lost all his no claims bonuses. Rough Justice indeed.

If a Garda had pursued McCormack with a car and hit him, would the Garda have been charged with assault? Presumably similar legal provisions would apply?

A college friend was killed in 1990 by an intruder armed with a screwdriver, the killer got just eight years for manslaughter.

I don’t believe anyone’s life should be ended because they stole or were trying to steal something.
In saying that, I think primeval instincts kick in when confronted with a burglar, even if the scumbag is fleeing.

I can’t understand how the insurance company paid out 175K to the burglar.
Especially considering the highest number of complaints to the ombudsman is in relation to insurance companies and their dodging of payouts to their customers.

I think this fellow McCormack should give the 175k to McCaughey and apologise and beg his forgiveness.
Go to drug rehab as he’s obviously on something and do something useful with his life. Go help some other scumbags change them to come off drugs.

Regarding the Insurance claim, If the claim was made on either home or motor policy, the policy holder would have no input into what the Insurance Company choose to pay out.
As Mr. McCraughy was vindicated, The Insurance Company could look for return of the compensation but it’s a complex process. As far as I know Mr.McCraughy would have to be awarded the amount it cost him in damages and he would in turn hand that over to the Insurance Company and retrieve his no claims bonus, Fairly crazy system.

It gets worse. McCaughey says he had to spend a six-figure sum to defend himself. Therefore, even though he was acquitted, he was subjected to a huge de facto fine.

Did Mr.McCaughey not look for costs ? or should he not have been awarded costs ?
As McCormack must have the ability to pay those costs out of his claim.

Here’s how its dealt with in the gun-totin’ USA, where the laws protect the rights of the homeowner. This girls husband had just died of cancer and the intruders were hoping to steal his narcotic pain med’s.

BLANCHARD, Okla. — Authorities don’t plan to file charges against an Oklahoma woman who fatally shot a New Year’s Eve intruder at her house while she had a 911 dispatcher on the phone, but the intruder’s alleged accomplice has been charged in the death.

A 911 tape released to Oklahoma City media outlets Wednesday reveals that 18-year-old Sarah McKinley asked a Grady County dispatcher for permission to shoot the intruder. McKinley’s 3-month-old son was with her when she shot Justin Shane Martin, 24, at her Blanchard mobile home.

“I’ve got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?” McKinley asked the dispatcher.

“Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself,” the dispatcher is heard telling McKinley. “I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you have to do what you have to do to protect your baby.”

Oklahoma law allows the use of deadly force against intruders, and prosecutors said McKinley clearly acted in self-defense. According to court documents, Martin was holding a knife when he died.

Bock,this is what I think. I will hold out my hand on this occasion to have it gladly slapped by your good self,and to hell with pc.
Would you look at the fucking head on McCormack.

Do we know which insurance company were involved.If I knew it would guide me when renewing my various insurance policies.I would not want to be insuring with a company who could not muster enough backbone to tell our gallant burglar to sue them in court.The insurance company viewed the percentages in this case rather than the moral issue.You may say that I’m a Dreamer………but enough now.Please advise insurers if known.

Quiggers,the insurance company looked at the circumstances in black and white which led to the injuries. They saw the medical reports which indicated two broken legs,no grey areas there,and settled on that basis. Taking an educated guess,Id say if they contested the action in court they would have lost and incurred even greater costs. Ergo the easy way out,which of course is why insurance premia here are high. This is standard procedure for all insurance companies. The PIAB is not the answer to all the problems in the personal injuries area which it was originally envisaged to be. The recently enacted Criminal Law Defence and Dwelling Act 2011 now precludes a burglar from suing the occupant should the burglar sustain injuries at the hands of the occupant defending his property. It also expressly states that”the use of force shall not exclude the use of force causing death”.

Tony C I agree that the insurer would lose this one. So settle and save!
McCaughey was very lucky to escape a jail term. The punsihmet for burglary is not death by car as yet. dont get me wrong – Kill the bastard for coming into your home while your family sleep. Regarding the claim , in the pre – PIAB days the fucker might have got a lot more! All the same, in fairness, his ability to earn a livelihood has been curtailed – how would you like to try getting in a window or up a drainpipe with two broken legs!

Martin McCaughey was fortunate to escape a prison sentance. McCormack was bound to win his case for damages. The penalty for burglary is not death by car. He could have died. You can’t go around pinning people against railings with your car. You should get the bastards before they get away from your house. A golf club if you’ve no shotgun. McCormack got compo because his ability to earn a living had been curtailed. It was based on future earnings no doubt. How can you climb drainpipes and get in windows with two broken legs?

An old fashioned bearded Quaker who strongly believed in the nonviolent resolution of disputes was awakened one early morning by the noise of an intruder. He purposefully walked down the stairs carrying a double-barrelled shotgun, and pointed it straight at the burglar when he found him rummaging in the sitting room. The Quaker said to the burglar: “My principles disallow me to hurt thee stranger, but thou standest in the spot whither I wish to shoot.” The intruder skidaddled forthwith in a mood of anxiety and potential repentance.

I wonder what small time burglars are thinking now.
They normally break into houses and maybe get a few valuables which they then have the hassle of selling.
Surely now the lucrative thing to do would be to antagonise the house owner into assaulting them and then suing them for damages.

That is a hard one to get your head around ok. Tonyc is probably right in saying the insurance company would have lost anyway. An automatic ruling that you cannot claim compensation if injured while carrying out a crime sounds so logical I’m surprised it wasn’t already in place. Then again it would probably have to be the police that were doing the pursuing in a public place. A car is somewhat larger than a baton too.

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