'Deeply sorry' wife-killer has jail sentence suspended
Published 21/10/2010 | 05:00
A HUSBAND who escaped jail when he was given a six-year suspended sentence for killing his wife was back at the family home last night.
Thomas Breen (62) declined to comment when approached by the Irish Independent at his south Dublin terrace house.
Earlier, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Patricia Ryan said Breen's family accepted his expression of remorse as genuine, and that he loved his wife Carmel dearly.
In a statement, which was read out by his defence counsel, Breen said he was "deeply sorry for the hurt and pain" caused to the family.
"I wish I could go back to that horrible night," he said. "I loved Carmel for 43 years and I still love her and miss her so much."
Last night, Breen's family and friends rallied around him. His brother-in-law Edward Lester, who lives in the same estate at Willow Vale in Ballybrack, said he and his wife were "delighted" Breen had not been jailed.
"We haven't more to say, we're delighted he got off," he said. One of Breen's sons declined to comment when contacted.
Breen had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his 56-year-old wife at their home on November 7, 2008. He has no previous convictions.
His defence counsel, Deirdre Murphy, told the judge yesterday that Breen had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his wife "in a final act of love" to avoid private details of their life being aired in court.
Neighbours in the estate described Breen as a "lovely man" and "a very quiet, gentleman" but some said there was an issue with alcohol in the couple's relationship.
That was also referred to in a victim impact statement from one of the couple's three sons, Trevor, earlier this month.
"They loved each other too much to part but loved to drink too much to give it up." He continued: "Our mother has been torn from us without a chance to say goodbye."
Judge Ryan noted yesterday that the post-mortem results showed very few injuries to Mrs Breen and that there was "no sustained struggle and no evidence of soft tissue injury."
Breen killed his wife when he put his hands around her neck during a struggle after his wife, who had earlier been drinking heavily, came at him with a knife following an argument.
He immediately rang gardai and reported what had happened.
Inspector Eamon O'Reilly agreed with Ms Murphy that there had been "an element of terrible bad luck" in that although Breen believed he had strangled his wife, in fact the compression had created "interference with the nerves in her neck which caused her immediate death".
He agreed he was an "honourable man" who was "bereft by the loss of his wife".
In a victim impact statement, Trevor Breen said he had tried not to take sides.
He said he did not condone what his father had done and there were times he could not speak to him.
"Should my father be accountable? Yes. Should he go to prison? I don't know, the courts must decide that."