DPP v Reilly

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeMr. Justice Sheehan
Judgment Date05 Jul 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] IECA 251
Docket Number98/15

[2016] IECA 251

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Sheehan J.

98/15

Sheehan J.

Mahon J.

Edwards J.

The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
V
Brian Reilly
Appellant

Sentencing – Unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle – Manifestly excessive sentence – Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether sentence was manifestly excessive

Facts: The appellant, Mr Reilly, pleaded guilty to the unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle and to a count of endangerment committed in the course of the unauthorised taking. The offences took place on the 22nd August 2013, at Balgaddy, Co. Dublin and the appellant received a sentence of four years imprisonment for the unauthorised taking and a consecutive sentence of five years imprisonment for the offence of endangerment. The final three years of the five year sentence were suspended on condition that the appellant keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of three years following his release and that he be subject to the supervision of the Probation Service during that time. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against that sentence. The principal complaint of the appellant was that the judge erred in his approach to sentence and imposed one that was excessive. The respondent, the DPP, rejected those submissions and submitted that the sentence was properly constructed and proportionate.

Held by Sheehan J that, while it was clear that personal deterrence was at the forefront of the sentencing judge's mind and that he acknowledged that the appellant was entitled to credit for his plea of guilty and admission, it was unclear what allowance was made for this mitigation and unclear whether or not the sentencing judge had regard to other mitigating material before him. In the Court's view this lack of clarity arose at least in part from the failure of the sentencing judge to identify a headline sentence in respect of either offence. As a result of this the Court was unable to ascertain what allowance was made for mitigation. In view of these errors of principle, the Court allowed the appeal and proceeded to resentence.

Sheehan J held that the maximum sentence in respect of the endangerment count is seven years imprisonment. Given the appellant's previous convictions and the harm caused to Mr Griffin, the owner of the vehicle, the Court identified a sentence of six years imprisonment as the appropriate headline sentence. Sheehan J noted that the principal mitigating factors at the time of the original sentence were the plea of guilty, the admissions made and the appellant's progress in prison which also included a report from the psychologist confirming that the appellant had attended for 21 sessions. All these matters required to be factored into the new sentence and in the Court's view twelve months should be allowed in respect of these matters. The Court noted that the appellant is a young man who has the ability to make a contribution to society; since the imposition of sentence he has worked hard in prison and has successfully completed further education programmes. Sheehan J held that these efforts and his own acknowledgment of the harm he caused to the injured party would be reflected by a further reduction in the amount of time to be served. Accordingly in respect of the endangerment count the Court imposed a sentence of six years imprisonment with the final eighteen months suspended on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of eighteen months following his release from prison and that he be subject to the Probation Service for that period. The Court identified four years imprisonment as the headline sentence for the unauthorised taking. In view of the mitigation, the Court reduced that sentence to three years imprisonment. Sheehan J held that both sentences were to run concurrently and be backdated to the date identified by the Circuit Court judge as the appropriate starting point.

Appeal allowed.

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered on the 5th day of July 2016 by Mr. Justice Sheehan
Mr. Justice Sheehan
1

This is an appeal against sentence.

2

The appellant pleaded guilty to the unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle and to a count of endangerment committed in the course of the unauthorised taking. The offences took place on the 22nd August 2013, at Balgaddy, Co. Dublin and the appellant received a sentence of four years imprisonment for the unauthorised taking and a...

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