How a teenage torturer’s assistant and fake asylum seeker sisters avoided jail

If Judge Martin Nolan was on the small council Game of Thrones might have been a very different series. Ned Stark might have received a suspended death sentence for his act of treason against the bastard king Joffrey ‘Baratheon’, and there might have been a ‘happily ever after’ for the inhabitants of Winterfell. Alas, he was not. 

Just this week, two sets of convicted criminals walked out of court having avoided jail in relation to what this writer would consider rather serious crimes. 

Dublin teenager, Josh Conlon, walked free from court after Judge (you guessed it) Martin Nolan fully suspended his sentence in relation to a two hour ordeal of imprisonment and torture he took part in.  

Conlon, who showed great remorse for his crimes by flipping off a photographer while wearing a defiant smile, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Ms Lyndsey Byrne in November 2021.


The assault on Ms Byrne and her partner Emmet Black was connected to a dispute over drugs. 

After the pair failed to come up with €7,000 they were attacked in Byrne’s Dublin home. 

Judge Nolan is reported to have said that Conlon, who has no previous convictions,  was not the “prime mover” of the incident and therefore imprisoning him would be unjust.

Now, I would think that overseeing or condoning by ones own participation in the torture of a person would be a rather large ‘no no’ in a country like Ireland. 

 It was reported that during the assault on Lyndsey Byrne Conlon’s co-accused, Paul Clarke, repeatedly poured boiling water on the woman. 

Most readers will surely be familiar with the horrid pain of even a little burn from boiling water – this writer remembers spilling a large drop on my leg while clumsily pouring some green tea.

Although it wasn’t anything like a serious burn, it took a year or two  for the mark it left to fade completely. 

Clarke was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the assault while Conlon’s three year sentence was suspended in full.  

This writer hasn’t seen the injuries sustained during the vicious assault, but four years for such a deliberately cruel act seems rather mild: then again I suppose it’s better than nothing  which, in Judge Nolan’s case, is perhaps something to be thankful for….

If indeed one should be thankful when violent criminals are punished.

I can’t help but think that if Conlon’s role in the assault was serious enough to earn him a three year sentence was it not then serious enough to warrant that the sentence be served in jail? 

After all, gender based violence, we are told, is something Minister for Justice Helen McEntee sees as a priority issue. 

The victim reportedly told Gardaí that she ‘thought she was going to die from the pain’ during the assault. 

Judge Nolan’s fondness for suspending sentences reappeared after sisters from Iraq also received – you guessed it again – fully suspended sentences after fraudulently claiming just over 10,000 in asylum seekers’ benefits. 

Hala Salman Alaabsali (39) and Raghad Salaman Alaabsali (29) who have an address in Drumcondra Rd Upper, Dublin both had 16 month sentences suspended and were simply ordered to ‘be good’ for that period. 

Now, fraudulently claiming thousands of euro of taxpayers’ money is rather unsavoury behaviour in this writer’s opinion, especially when it is done under the false pretence that one is fleeing persecution and in desperate need of shelter. 

It was reported that Hala and Raghad, who both have Spanish and Iraqi citizenship, “used valid Iraqi documents to claim asylum seeker payments of some €38 weekly, along with accommodation and meals, to which they were not entitled as they are also EU citizens.”

It would appear that the sisters wanted to benefit from free accommodation and food so they lied about their circumstances to avoid paying their way for a time. 

For many, rent is the biggest drain on income, and even honest people who pay their taxes are not immune from having to fork out for it. 

A teacher friend of mine confided in me that she pays almost half of her salary on a small apartment in Dublin 6 that’s basically a box with a door. 

The cost of rent, in the midst of the ongoing housing and accommodation crisis, is I would say a very sore subject in this country. 

The court heard that the sisters had moved to Spain with their parents in 2000 and came to Ireland in 2017 some years after obtaining Spanish nationality. 

“Hala Salman Alaabsali pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements for the purpose of obtaining Direct Provision payments totalling €6,832 between August 2017 and November 2019.”

“Raghad Salaman Alaabsali pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements for the purpose of obtaining Direct Provision payments totalling €4,187 between August 2017 and August 2019.”

After all,  it is this very argument that is being used to shame and silence the growing number of Irish people who feel deeply unhappy with the government’s handling of the refugee and asylum seeker situation in this country: well, that or just calling people ‘far right’ or ‘racist’. 

Raghad also admitted one count of making a false statement in order to obtain a PPS number. 

Like Josh Conlon, one of the sisters was pictured smiling as she left the court. 

Concealing the nature of one’s citizenship to falsely claim free money from the Irish state and lying about being asylum seekers sound like rather serious acts of fraud to me, heck all things considered, I’ll upgrade that to very serious.. 

The sisters’ actions and their being allowed to walk free certainly won’t help the growing perception among the Irish taxpayer that many of those claiming asylum in this country may be less than genuine.  

Although the answer may be fairly obvious at this point, this writer thinks the most obvious question here is whether leniency like this acts as any kind of deterrent to would-be violent criminals and fraudsters in this country? 


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