DPP v O'Loughlin
 IECA 29
THE COURT OF APPEAL
231/2012 & 230/2012 - Ryan Birmingham Sheehan - Court of Appeal - 2/12/2014 - 2014 16 4566 2014 IECA 29
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2006 S72
CRIMINAL JUSTICE (SURVEILLANCE) ACT 2009
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 2006 S71
Sentencing – Participation in the activities of a criminal gang – Severity of sentence – Appellants seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether there was an error in principle
Both applicants have appealed against the severity of sentences that were imposed upon them by the Dublin Circuit Court on the 12th June, 2012. The sentence under appeal in each case was one of nine years imprisonment imposed in respect of the offence of participating in the activities of a criminal gang contrary to s. 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. The maximum penalty provided in respect of the offence is one of fifteen years.
The background to the appeal in respect of the offences on which they were subsequently sentenced, is that the two appellants had gone on trial in February 2012, for offences of directing a criminal organisation. It is not absolutely clear to the court whether there was also on the indictment at the stage an offence of participation in the activities of a criminal and it would appear from these papers and on the basis what we heard this morning, perhaps not, but in any event the major charge in the case was one of directing the activities of a criminal organisation.
The trial had been expected to be a particularly lengthy one, estimated to range from three months to six months. During the course of the trial, a perceived difficulty in relation to the return for trial emerged and in these circumstances the accused men, as they were at the time, were recharged and they offered a plea to the less serious offence of participating in the activities of a criminal organisation, which were accepted.
Insofar as the background to the offence is concerned, the position is that the Garda Síochána launched an operation code named "Operation Foolscap" charting the activities of a Galway based criminal gang. The gang in question had apparently some thirteen to fifteen participants. There were really two elements to the garda operation. It involved first of all what might be described as a traditional police operation. But secondly, and significantly, an important part of the investigation was that the vehicles that were used by the appellants, were subjected to audio surveillance. Authority for this, having been obtained from a judge in the District Court, was pursuant to the Criminal Justice Surveillance Act 2009.
It appears that in all, some 110 days of recordings were monitored and on almost every day when recordings were in place, there were some discussions about criminal activities. More specifically...
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