DPP v D.G.

JudgeMurray C.J.
Judgment Date27 May 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] IECCA 75
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
Date27 May 2005

[2005] IECCA 75


Murray C.J.

O'Sullivan J.

O'Leary J.

DPP v G (D)






O, STATE v O'BRIEN 1973 IR 50

DPP v WHELAN UNREP CCA 13.7.1998 1999/9/2216

DPP v SACCO & WHELAN UNREP CCA 23.3.1998 2000/8/2932



Murder - Fifteen year old at time of commission of offence - Discretion on question of sentence - Sentenced to life imprisonment - Sentence subject to review in 2014 - Both accused and DPP submitted custodial sentence for specified number of years in principle more appropriate - Trial judge did not err in principle in imposing life sentence subject to review - Application refused (198/2004 - CCA - 27/5/2005) [2005] IECCA 75 People (DPP) v G (D)

The appellant was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment subject to review by the Central Criminal Court in July 2014. It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that given his very young age at the time of the commission of the offence (he was 15 years old) and in principle, the trial judge in imposing sentence should have left him with some light at the end of the tunnel so that he could identify some point at which he would be released.

Held by the Court of Criminal Appeal (Murray C.J., O’Sullivan, O’Leary JJ) in refusing the appeal: That having regard to the callous and unprovoked nature of the murder, and the disposition of the appellant as found at the time of sentencing, the learned trial judge was not wrong in principle in imposing the sentence which he imposed in this case. Furthermore, the learned trial judge provided a light at the end of the tunnel in determining that the sentence should be reviewed by the Court ten years after the appellant had been taken into custody in connection with the offence.

Reporter: L.O’S.


JUDGMENT of the Court delivered the 27th day of May, 2005 by Murray C.J.

Murray C.J.

On the 19th day of July, 2004 the appellant, after trial by jury before the Central Criminal Court, was convicted of the offence of murder, contrary to common law as provided by s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1964. The appellant was remanded in custody pending sentence. On the 15th day of October, 2004 the appellant was sentenced to be detained for life, the sentence to commence from the 12th day of November, 2003 and the Court further ordered that the matter be listed before the Central Criminal Court in July 2014 for the purpose of reviewing the sentence imposed.

Summary factual background

At 11:10 p.m. on the 11th day of November, 2003 the body of the victim of this murder, Darragh Conroy, was found on the banks of the river Owness adjacent to Mountmellick, Co. Laois by the Gardaí. The deceased was a boy aged 14 years. The appellant, himself aged 15 years at the time, had lured Darragh Conroy down to the banks of the river and struck him over the head with a hammer approximately seven times. According to the report of the Deputy State Pathologist the deceased would appear to have been struck a first blow when he was upright, or partly so, and this caused him to collapse to the ground in probably an unconscious condition. There then followed five separate blows inflicted in rapid succession when the deceased was lying on the ground. He had been struck with considerable force with the hammer involving extensive damage to the skull and underlying brain injury. According to the pathologist the deceased would have been immediately unconscious and would have died rapidly.


There was no apparent motive and certainly the appellant never claimed he was motivated by any animosity towards the deceased victim as such and at one time had referred to the deceased boy as being "the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time".


The facts relating to the offence are not in issue. In the course of sentencing the learned trial Judge stated

"Mr. [G.] you killed an innocent 14 year old in a premeditated brutal, vicious and callous manner. Not alone did you deprive Darragh Conroy of his life at a time when in the normal of course of events he would have had the entire of his future to look forward to, but you also devastated the life of his mother, who will grieve and mourn to her dying day for her only child."


You have brought shame and disgrace upon your family. Wrong and all as it maybe, but having regard to human nature they will find themselves branded for the rest of their lives as the parents of a murderer and you have ruined your own life.


You pleaded not guilty to the offence. That was your right and I do not hold that against you. It would be entirely wrong of me to hold that against you. But by contesting your trial you gave me the opportunity to observe your attitude and demeanour throughout the trial. To say the least, your attitude was one of total indifference to what was going on about you and more probably was one of absolute scorn and contempt for the trial process in particular and for society in general.


In the general run of matters or as a general rule where a person either pleads guilty to murder or is found guilty of murder by a jury a judge must impose a mandatory life sentence because the Oireachtas have determined the appropriate sentence for murder in one of life imprisonment.


However, having regard to your age I have a discretion on the question of the sentence. At this stage I must, in the first instance, consider what is the appropriate sentence for your offence. What is the appropriate sentence for a 15 year old who kills a 14 year old.


Having regard to the fact that this was a premeditated murder and having regard to the viciousness with which you beat to death an unarmed innocent young man without any form of provocation or justification, and there could not be any form of justification for your conduct, I consider that the appropriate sentence for an offence and for this particular offence in general terms is that of life.


I must look, Mr. [G.], and see what mitigating circumstances, if any, arise in relation to you. Apart from your age, I cannot see any. It has been urged upon me that you are remorseful for what has happened. I would have thought that if you were remorseful for your offence that remorse would have manifested itself...

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