Two men who ransacked the home of a 62-year-old man in rural Co Limerick, who suffered a fatal heart attack after discovering the men robbing his house, have been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Michael Casey, 32, from Clonlong Halting Site in Limerick and his 22-year-old cousin David Casey from Coolock in Dublin, had pleaded guilty to a series of burglaries around Doon and Cappamore in Limerick on 27 August 2015.

John O'Donoghue, who lived alone, suspected his house near Doon had been broken into when he returned there from a shopping trip with his sister Christina that afternoon.

He noticed that a side door had been forced open and a black van was parked in a yard across the road.

Mr O'Donoghue went to get a shovel but when he returned he collapsed in the yard.

By this stage, the raiders had been alerted by the van driver who sounded the horn and tried to escape through a field at the back of the house.

Mr O'Donoghue's sister ran to her brother's aid and pleaded with the intruders to help, however he died in the yard.

The court heard that the two accused were part of a three-man gang who had been targeting isolated rural homes to burgle.

David Casey was on bail for two robberies at the time of the break-in at Doon.

Sentencing the two men, Judge Tom O'Donnell said he was deeply conscious of the loss and emotional turmoil suffered by Mr O'Donoghue's family.

He said there had been a loss of life in circumstances aggravated by the premeditated nature of the offences in which rural houses were easy targets.

Both men had previous convictions: Michael Casey had 44, David Casey 14.

He said the two accused had written letters expressing their profound remorse, shame and shock when told of Mr O'Donoghue's death.

He accepted they had made early pleas, were model prisoners, and were making efforts to rehabilitate themselves in prison.

He imposed sentences of four-and-a-half years on each man on the burglary charge, suspending the final year, and backdated the sentence to their arrest on 27 August 2015.

A spokesperson for the O'Donoghue family expressed their disappointment at the leniency of the sentence, and hoped it would be appealed by the DPP.

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