DPP v Ward


[2015] IECA 18


Ryan P., Sheehan J, Mahon J.

Appeal Number : 6/2013

The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Douglas Ward

Criminal law - Manslaughter - Appeal against severity of sentence - Particularly vicious assault - Aggravating and mitigating factors with regards sentencing - Whether sentence excessive

Mr. Justice Mahon

This is an appeal against the severity of a sentence of sixteen years (with the final three years suspended) for manslaughter, imposed by the Central Criminal Court on 21st December 2012.


The appellant was originally charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on 30th October 2012. This plea was accepted by the respondent.


The victim of the crime was Mr. Niall Dorr. He died from his injuries on the day following the date of the assault on him by the appellant.


The assault on Mr. Dorr took place at Castle Road, Dundalk on 13th October 2010, in the course of a fight between two groups of people, one group comprising two men and two women, (one of whom was the applicant), and the other group comprising three men, (one of whom was the deceased). The two groups of people, but excluding the appellant, had been involved in a fracas on the previous day. The appellant was drinking heavily on the day of the assault.


In the course of the incident, the appellant and Mr. Dorr became separated from their associates, whereupon and by all accounts, the appellant proceeded to viciously assault Mr. Dorr, in the course of which Mr. Dorr was punched to the ground, and there violently kicked and punched in the head and body, as well as being dragged along the ground. Both the accounts of witnesses, and the post mortem results, vividly illustrate the very violent and persistent nature of the attack. The post mortem revealed the existence of eighteen injuries to the head and neck, fifteen injuries to the limbs, two injuries to the front of the trunk, and numerous bruises and grazes. Two of the injuries to the head, in particular, caused or contributed to a haemorrhage into the skull cavity and, ultimately, Mr. Dorr”s death.


Both these, and the other head injuries, were more consistent with being kicked rather than hard contact being made with the ground. There was no evidence of defence type injuries on...

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