Glasgow & West Scotland

Man jailed after Rutherglen priest robbed in 'gun' threat attack

Fr Pat Hennessey
Image caption Father Pat Hennessey was attacked at his home - the church house at St Columbkille's in Rutherglen

A man who attacked and robbed a priest in his home has been jailed for four years.

Michael McTaggart, 41, demanded cash from 73-year-old Father Patrick Hennessy and told him he "had a gun".

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard he grabbed the priest from the front door of the church house at St Columbkille's Roman Catholic Church in Rutherglen, then pulled him back inside.

McTaggart made off with collection envelopes containing cash donations.

Father Hennessy escaped from his house where he was helped by neighbours and McTaggart fled the scene.

McTaggart - who had been released early from a previous sentence at the time - admitted assaulting Father Hennessy and robbing him of collection money on 13 May.

'Longer and longer'

Sheriff Martin Jones QC said: "You have pled guilty to an extremely serious offence, which must have been a terrifying experience.

"You used violence to extract money from him and pulled him into the house after you had obtained money and threatened him in the vestibule of the premises."

The sheriff added: "The time has come to realise if you continue offending this way your sentences are going to get longer and longer."

The court heard Father Hennessy was "physically frail" and helps people who come to his door when he can, usually by giving them food.

Procurator fiscal depute Louise MacNeil said Father Hennessy was watching television at about about 21:40 when he heard somebody banging on the internal door and answered it.

Image copyright Google images
Image caption St Columbkilles in Rutherglen, where Father Patrick Hennessy was robbed

She said: "The accused then seized him by the head and pulled him into the porch area.

"McTaggart closed the storm door and pushed Father Hennessy in to a corner and stated 'I want money'.

"Father Hennessy gave him two pink collection envelopes he believed to contain £10 each and five pounds from his pocket."

McTaggart continued to demand cash from the pensioner and told him "I have a gun", then put his hand in his waistband.

'Appalled and ashamed'

The thug then grabbed Father Hennessy by the jumper and pulled him inside the house while he continued to ask for money.

Miss MacNeil added: "Father Hennessy gave him a donation box from the chapel, sitting on the table."

McTaggart prised the box open and took out all the pink envelopes - thought to have about £100 in them.

Meanwhile the terrified priest took the opportunity to run in to the street where he was helped by neighbours.

Police checked CCTV of the area and later found McTaggart on Rutherglen Main Street. During a police interview he denied any involvement.

Defence lawyer Roddy Roberts said it was "nasty crime" and that his client is "appalled and ashamed".

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites