DPP v Brett

 
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[2014] IECA 48

THE COURT OF APPEAL

The President

Sheehan J.

Hogan J.

[104/12]

Between
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
and
Gerard Brett
Appellant

Sentencing – Vehicular manslaughter – Mitigating factors – Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether trial judge fell into error by insufficiently appreciating and evaluating the mitigating factors

1

This is an unusual and very sad case. It is a serious case.

2

The accident happened on 21st January 2010. The accident happened at Portrane, County Dublin. The accused had been for many years a person of unblemished character and reputation and he worked as a psychiatric nurse in Portrane. But on this occasion, he did not behave in unblemished fashion; he drove when he was drunk. As a result of that, he caused the death of Mr. Benedict Brady who was crossing the road. That happened because the accused man decided to drive when he was drunk.

3

The evidence is that his car was weaving across the road before the accident. It is true, indeed, that the evidence does not disclose excessive speed. That, in fairness, does distinguish the case from many other instances of dangerous driving and dangerous driving causing death. Having said that, it was driving at a sufficient speed to kill Mr. Brady. The evidence in the case was that the braking happened at or after the impact. There might have been circumstances on a January night when somebody in dark clothing was crossing the road and when a driver, using all his or her faculties and not being impaired by drink or anything else, might have an accident and that accident could result in a fatality. All those things are possible. But the central fact in this case is that Mr. Brett had impaired his own capacity to react to any circumstances by the fact that he had consumed a very large quantity of drink, such that his blood alcohol reading was 266mg. per litre.

4

In those circumstances, the learned trial judge was perfectly entitled to take a serious view of the case. This Court shares that serious view of the case. There were, of course, mitigating elements in the case and they have to be respected. The accused pleaded guilty. The Court was satisfied, and this Court is satisfied that there was genuine remorse. He had lived a life of unblemished...

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