Cowardly attacker of disabled man sent to prison

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014

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A seriously disabled man who is legally blind was attacked in a home invasion by a man demanding drugs.

Daryl Ross O'Connell, 29, was yesterday jailed for what the judge called a "disgusting and cowardly" attack on a blind and epileptic man unable to protect himself.

On Sunday, April 14 at 12pm, O'Connell knocked on the door to ask if another man was at the house but was told by his victim he was not, the Crown summary says.

O'Connell returned and went into the house, walking into the lounge and punching his victim on the back of his head and rifling through drawers.

The victim realised it was the same man who had just before knocked on the door.

O'Connell yelled at him: "Tell me where the pills are, I know they're here." O'Connell then moved to the victim's mother's bedroom ransacking that room.

When the victim rang police, O'Connell grabbed him around the neck telling him to tell police everything was fine.

He then punched him in his face several more times.

Police arrested O'Connell a short distance away.

Judge Allan Roberts described O'Connell as unemployable and spent his life looking for instant pleasure from drugs or alcohol.

He had 50 convictions in the adult court and 17 prison sentences.

The judge said it appeared O'Connell was after ritalin he claimed he had been buying from another at the house.

His victim, who had scarring on the brain which caused the blindness, was now too frightened to leave home because of the threats O'Connell made to him. His mother said the effect was heart-breaking after the hard work gained to give him a level of independence, the judge said.

However O'Connell had expressed his remorse which the judge believed was genuine.

The victim suffered black eyes and bruising on his head but the emotional impact was ongoing, the judge said.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Britton called for an increase in the "inevitable jail sentence" because of O'Connell's extensive criminal history.

O'Connell's lawyer Rajan Rai asked that his client be given a reduction for the guilty plea.

Judge Roberts declined to do so because the late plea came just prior to trial. However he allowed a 10 per cent reduction because the victim was saved from the ordeal of a court trial.

O'Connell was sentenced to two years jail.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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