Bradley brothers have sentences reduced by six months on appeal
Published 16/07/2014 | 18:43
Two brothers who received sentences totaling 16 years for conspiring to steal from a security van transporting almost €1m in cash have had each of their sentences reduced by six months on appeal.
The Court of Criminal Appeal today found there was an error in principle in the sentence of nine years with two suspended imposed on Alan Bradley (40) and in the sentence of seven years with 18 months suspended imposed on his brother Wayne Bradley (35) by Judge Tony Hunt in April 2012.
The men attempted to carry out the raid under the direction of the late Eamon Dunne, who was also arrested at the scene. Three other men were also sentenced for their roles including a Chubb Ireland employee who acted as an “inside man”. The van contained nearly one million euro at the time.
Wayne Bradley, with a last address of Ratoath Road, Finglas, Dublin and Alan Bradley, with a last address at Churchfields, Kentstown, Co Meath, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland on November 2, 2007 at Tesco, Celbridge Co Kildare.
Returning judgement, presiding judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin said the appeal court wished to take the opportunity to congratulate gardai on their efforts and the surveillance and investigative work which prevented the commission of an even more serious crime.
He said there was one primary and significant point in the appeal brought by Alan Bradley, and it could be put in the one simple sentence that it appeared the trial judge was deeply concerned about the fitness of the maximum sentence of ten years for the offence.
He said the difficulty which arose was that it was implicit that Judge Hunt effectively starting his reasoning from the position of the maximum sentence and then worked to give a discount of one year for the plea of guilty, bringing the sentence to nine years with the final two years suspended.
Mr Justice MacMenamin said it appeared that the trial judge “on this unusual occasion did somewhat err in principle”. He said the court was of the view that Judge Hunt should have gauged precisely where the case lay on the spectrum of offending and indentified such a charge where there is a plea of guilty.
He said the court found that the appropriate sentence was one of eight years with a term of one-and-a-half years suspended.
With regard to Wayne Bradley, he said it appeared to the court that the starting point for the sentence was predicated on the same point identified earlier, and in those circumstances the court considered there was an error in principle.
Having regard to documentation submitted on behalf of Wayne Bradley on his health and other issues, Mr Justice MacMenamin said the court considered the appropriate sentence was one of six years with one year suspended.
Counsel for Alan Bradley, Mr Patrick Marrinan SC, had told the court that his client was “deeply unhappy” with aspects of the submissions made by the State in the appeal, in particular the value placed on his plea of guilty and on the assertion that Bradley was “somehow caught red-handed”.
Mr Marrinan said he did not intend to deal with the seriousness of the offence as there were was evidence it was a “significant, serious conspiracy” to steal money.
However, Mr Marrinan submitted that the trial judge said on no fewer than 10 occasions that he felt constrained by the maximum sentence of 10 years that can be imposed on the charge.
Counsel said this was where the error in principle lay, as although the trial judge was perhaps “fully entitled” to make remarks in relation to the sentence and criticise the Oireachtas he is not allowed “dominate the sentence hearing”, which was “effectively what happened”.
Mr Marrinan said this effectively undermined the plea of guilty to the charge.
Counsel submitted that because the trial judge regarded the maximum penalty as inadequate, he seemed to believe he was constrained in some way in giving the normal discount for a plea of guilty.
Ms Aileen Donnelly SC, for Wayne Bradley, said she would adopt the submissions of Mr Marrinan.
She also submitted that there were always distinguishing features between Wayne Bradley and Alan Bradley which were not reflected sufficiently in the sentence given by the trial judge, and she told the court that Wayne Bradley was not involved in the organisation, planning or direction of the offence.
Ms Donnelly handed in documentation in relation to her client, including letters from a psychiatrist and a GP which outlined how her client suffered from panic attacks and lower back pain, problems which had deteriorated since going in to custody.
Counsel said her client had at one point ended up in a wheelchair and had ankylosing spondylitis, which made prison more difficult for him.
She submitted that the sentence imposed was inappropriate and made in error and asked the court to reduce that sentence.