Saturday 29 April 2017

Five years for killing prisoner in row over TV

David Byrne: skull fracture from being hit in the head
David Byrne: skull fracture from being hit in the head

Natasha Reid

A Mountjoy prisoner has been given an additional five years behind bars for killing a fellow inmate over a TV remote control.

Alan Smith (34) of Ballybough House, Ballybough Road and Buttercup Park, Darndale, both in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Dublin father-of-one David Byrne on July 3, 2009.

However, he pleaded guilty to the 29-year-old's manslaughter in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin and this was accepted by the State.

He was given an eight-year sentence with three years suspended. But this term will not begin until his current five-year sentence for drug possession is completed in 2013.

The Central Criminal Court had heard that on the evening of June 9, 2009, Smith hit Byrne over the head with a sock containing two batteries because he thought the victim had taken a remote control.

Byrne was seen by a nurse in the Mater Hospital's A&E around 11pm but insisted on being brought back to prison around midnight, as he was about to be admitted as an in-patient. He also declined to see the prison doctor.

Byrne was found unconscious in his cell the following morning.

He remained in a coma for 25 days in the Neurosurgical Unit of Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, where he passed away on July 3, 2009.

A post-mortem exam showed he had suffered a skull fracture, which had torn an artery and caused internal bleeding over a number of hours.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said yesterday that he was taking into account "the calculated creation of the weapon of attack", "the disproportionate response to the perceived grievance" and the effect on the victim's family.

He sentenced Smith to eight years in prison -- but took into consideration his guilty plea. The court had previously heard that when arrested, he said he was 'gutted' and this remorse was also taken into account.

Rejecting

"Matters would probably have turned out differently, had David Byrne not insisted on rejecting medical attention," the judge said, suspending the final three years of the sentence.

Byrne, who was serving six months in jail, left behind a seven-month-old son.

His mother, Margaret Byrne, said in her victim impact statement earlier this week that she was the full-time carer of his now three-year-old son, and that her son should have been safe in prison.

She said she had a broken heart since her son's death.

"David didn't deserve to die," she said in a statement read out in court on Monday. "He had his problems but he was an ordinary human being and should have been safe where he was in Mountjoy prison."

She was in court with other family members yesterday to see her son's killer jailed for five years, a sentence with which the family is understood to be disappointed.

Irish Independent

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