DPP v M.A.

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice Sheehan
Judgment Date18 January 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IECA 6
Docket Number163CJA/15
Date18 January 2016

[2016] IECA 6

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Sheehan J.

163CJA/15

Sheehan J.

Mahon J.

Edwards J.

In the matter Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Appellant v
v
M.A.
Respondent

Sentencing ? Assault causing harm ? Undue leniency ? Appellant seeking a review of sentence ? Whether sentence was unduly lenient

Facts: The respondent and the injured party were in an eleven year relationship. The respondent was the father of the injured party?s two youngest children. On the 5th January, 2014, the injured party had returned home from Kingscourt and was verbally abused by the respondent. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into a bedroom. He kicked her on the legs and in the head whilst wearing his work boots with steel toecaps. After a few minutes he left her, but returned on two occasions to kick her again. At one point the respondent grabbed her with one hand around her neck and lifted her up as a result of which she hit her head off the ceiling. He then threw her on the ground. The injured party was 4 ft. 10 ins. in height and the respondent was 6 ft. tall. The respondent came to the bedroom holding an article which the injured party thought was a butter knife and shouted at her to stab him. She was left on the bedroom floor for approximately four hours. Her eleven year old son went to fetch help for her. He cycled his bicycle for a mile and a half along country roads to Pizza Point, Main Street, Kingscourt, where he asked if he could ring 999. He was afraid and on his own. The Gardaí arrived at the pizza shop and brought him home and the respondent was arrested. An ambulance took the injured party to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth. This assault occurred while a safety order dated the 11th June, 2012, directed to remain in force for three years, was in place. The said order directed that the respondent should not use or threaten to use violence against, molest or put in fear the injured party. On the 4th March, 2015, the respondent pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the injured party. The court adjourned sentence to the 3rd June, 2015. The court directed the respondent to have no contact with the injured party in the meantime. On the 7th June, 2014, the injured party made a statement withdrawing her complaint against the respondent. On the 25th November, 2014, she made a statement that she had been brought by the respondent to the Gardaí station on the 7th June, 2014, for the purpose of getting her to withdraw her complaint while he waited down the street for her. She said she was afraid of him and intimidated by him and that she did in fact want to continue with her complaint against him. The respondent was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment on the 3rd March, 2015 at the Circuit Criminal Court in Monaghan in respect of assault contrary to s. 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. The appellant, the DPP, applied to the Court of Appeal pursuant to s. 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993, for a review of the sentence on grounds of undue leniency, submitting that the sentence imposed did not adequately reflect the gravity of the offending behaviour, relying on DPP v Black CCA31/709 and DPP v Fitzgibbon [2014] 2 ILRM 116. The respondent submitted that the sentence imposed was appropriate and proportionate, relying on DPP v Byrne [1995] 1 ILRM 13 and the People (DPP) v Redmond [2001] 3 IR 390.

Held by Sheehan J that the particular circumstances of the offending behaviour in this case warranted a sentence substantially higher than the one imposed. Sheehan J allowed the appeal, quashed the original sentence and proceeded to a fresh sentence hearing.

Sheehan J held that the principle aggravating factors were the severity of the assault, its effect on the victim and the children, the necessity for an eleven year old child to cycle one and a half miles to get help for his seriously injured mother who then lay on the bedroom floor in severe pain, as well as the attempt to get the complainant to withdraw her complaint. These factors led the Court to identify a sentence of four years imprisonment as the appropriate starting point. Sheehan J held that the principle mitigating factors were the plea of guilty and the expressed needs of the respondent?s younger children. The Court would suspend the final sixteen months of the four year sentence for a period of two years post release on condition that the respondent enters into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for that period of time.

Appeal allowed.

Judgment of the Court (ex tempore) delivered on the 18th day of January 2016 by Mr. Justice Sheehan
1

This is an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions pursuant to s. 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993, for a review on grounds of undue leniency of the sentence of twelve months imprisonment imposed on the respondent on the 3rd March, 2015 at the Circuit Criminal Court in Monaghan in respect of an assault by him on his partner on the 5th January, 2014, contrary to s. 3 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

2

In order to consider this application it is necessary to set out a summary of the facts, the effect of the assault on the injured party, the personal circumstances of the respondent and the judge's sentencing remarks.

3

On the 4th March, 2015, the respondent pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to RM. The court directed a victim impact report and a probation report and adjourned sentence to the 3rd June, 2015. The court directed the respondent to have no contact with the injured party in the meantime.

4

On the 3rd June, 2015, Sergeant James Gallagher told the court that the injured party was the mother of three children, E aged 11, S aged 5 and N aged 4 and that the respondent was the father of the two youngest children. The respondent and the injured party had been in a relationship for eleven years when the offence occurred.

5

Sergeant Gallagher told the court that at approximately 12.30 am on the 5th January, 2014, RM had returned home from Kingscourt and...

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