DPP -v- Leigh Crowe, [2009] IECCA 57 (2009)

Docket Number:213/07
Party Name:DPP, Leigh Crowe
Judge:Kearns J.
 
FREE EXCERPT

THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

Kearns J.

de Valera J.

McCarthy J.

[C.C.A. No. 213 of 2007]

BETWEEN

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

RESPONDENT

AND

LEIGH CROWE

APPLICANT

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered by Mr. Justice Kearns on the 27th day of May, 2009

On 8th October, 2007 at the Central Criminal Court the applicant pleaded not guilty to the murder of Owen Cahill on the 2nd April, 2006 at Poulboy, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, but guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility which said plea was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions. On the same occasion the applicant pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of one Mark Doolan on the same date and location and to assault causing harm to one Sharon Rossiter contrary to s.3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, also at Poulboy, Clonmel, on the same date in April, 2006.

The court had before it medical reports from Doctor Paul O'Connell, a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, and from Doctor Nataraj Gojanur, visiting Psychiatrist to Limerick Prison. The court also heard character evidence in relation to the applicant from Mr. Tom O'Mahony, Manager of the local GAA Football Club, Mr. Edward Dooley, Building Contractor, who had employed the applicant between 2004 and 2006. The court also had before it a victim impact statement from Catherine Cahill, the mother of the deceased Owen Cahill.

Following a plea in mitigation, the trial judge (Carney J.) imposed a sentence of imprisonment for life in respect of the manslaughter count. He further imposed sentences of fifteen years imprisonment in respect of the attempted murder and five years imprisonment in respect of the assault, all sentences to run concurrently and to date from the 3rd April, 2006.

This appeal is one against the severity of the sentence imposed in respect of the counts of manslaughter and attempted murder.

BACKGROUND

Evidence as to the background circumstances of the offence was given by Detective Sergeant O'Riordan. He outlined that on Sunday, 2nd April, 2006 a party was taking place at the dwelling house premises of Mr. Cliff Hennessy at Poulboy in Clonmel. The applicant became aware that Owen Cahill, Mark Doolan and Sharon Rossiter were attending the party in question and travelled by car in the small hours of the morning to the location of the party, armed with two shotguns, one a sawn-off shotgun and the other a pump action shotgun. Both David Ryan and the accused arrived at Mr. Hennessy's house wearing balaclavas and each armed with a shotgun. Having entered the house, the two men targeted Owen Cahill and Mark Doolan. Owen Cahill was shot at point blank range in the face by David Ryan and death was instantaneous. The applicant shot Mark Doolan who managed to distract the applicant momentarily, as a result of which he was shot in the upper right arm, suffering serious injuries. It appears that Sharon Rossiter was struck by the butt end of one of the weapons carried by the applicant and David Ryan. Both gunmen then fled the scene leaving behind one of the shotguns. The applicant was arrested shortly afterwards in Clonmel and brought to Clonmel Garda Station. He was later charged with the murder of Owen Cahill, the attempted murder of Mark Doolan and also of the charge of assault causing harm to Sharon Rossiter.

In the course of interview, the applicant eventually admitted his part in the offences. During the course of interview he requested that the tapes be turned off, following which he demanded to know of the gardai what evidence they had against him. On being informed that the gardai were in possession of a statement from a witness who was in the house when the shooting took place and who identified him as one of the participants in the shootings. Having initially protested that he was wearing a balaclava and gloves and was thus unrecognisable, he then admitted that David Ryan had shot Owen Cahill and that he had gone into the kitchen where he shot Mark Doolan.

The deceased Owen Cahill was twenty-five years of age. The applicant was born in July, 1974 and was thus thirty-one years of age at the time of the incident. He remained in custody from 3rd April, 2006 and did not apply for bail. Following a direction from the District Court, a psychiatric report on the applicant was prepared by Doctor Gojanur. At a later point in time the defence procured a report from Doctor Paul O'Connell, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, which is dated 16th September, 2007.

The Central Criminal Court also heard evidence from Detective Sergeant O'Riordan that the applicant was shot in the back in December, 2004 and believed that Owen Cahill, the deceased, was one of the people who had shot him. There was also evidence in that the gardai had warned the applicant on occasions that his life was in danger and that an attempt was going to be made to kill him.

Evidence was also given that in the aftermath of the incident the applicant got rid of the gun which he had been carrying and burned the clothes which he had been wearing. Evidence was also given that the applicant had significant problems with both alcohol and drugs and had twenty-three previous convictions, including multiple convictions for assault between 1995 and 2002.

THE...

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