Man who shot Leaving Cert student in the head gets 17-year jail sentence
A MAN with 179 previous convictions who shot a Leaving Certificate student in the head has been sentenced to 17 years at the Central Criminal Court for attempted murder.
Shane Mason (30) had denied shooting Daniel Philips, who was driving a car through John's Square in Limerick on May 24th, 2010 when he was shot in the head and chest.
However, in July of this year a jury found Mason guilty of attempted murder by unanimous verdict after a trial of two and a half weeks.
The Central Criminal Court jury found him guilty of causing Mr Philips serious harm and possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, charges he also denied.
Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan this afternoon aid the court would impose a sentence of 17 years with one year suspended on Mason, having found that the offence was at the highest end of the scale of seriousness for attempted murder.
He said that father-of-one Mason had openly carried out the shooting in “broad daylight” without a disguise in a busy public square close to his home where people other than the victim had been put at risk.
Mr Justice Sheehan said the court could not find any mitigating circumstances.
Regarding personal circumstances, Mr Justice Sheehan said the court noted that Mason came from a large family in Limerick, did not go to secondary school and left primary school without the ability to read or write.
Mr Justice Sheehan said the court recognised that Mason, of Seán Heuston Place in Limerick, had fully cooperated with an educational psychiatrist and had expressed a strong interest in undergoing educational courses in prison.
He said the seriousness of the offence did not need to be elaborated on as “the facts speak for themselves”, but the court noted the contents of Mr Philips’ victim impact report as well as the recent onset of epilepsy in the victim.
Mr Justice Sheehan said the suspended portion of the sentence was on condition that Mason participate in an education course in prison which would allow him to reach the level of an Applied Leaving Certificate.
The trial heard that Mr Philips spent a month in a coma after bullet fragments were removed from his skull and chest, but has since made a remarkable recovery and resumed studying for his Leaving Certificate.
In a victim impact report, Daniel Philips said that after he underwent surgery to remove the bullets, he got an infection and pneumonia while his lungs collapsed twice. He said he had to learn to walk again at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, where he also received counselling.
He said he returned home in late November last year, but soon had to go to live with his aunt and uncle and now no longer sees himself being able to live independently.
Detective Sergeant Kevin McHugh told the court that no clear motive had ever been established for the attack, which saw Mason fire about six shots at the car driven by Mr Philips.
The victim’s friend Gary Kelly, who was in the passenger seat, saw Daniel slump over the wheel and managed to bend down and work the pedals with his hands, steering the car away from the scene by looking at the buildings around him.
Mason has 179 previous convictions, including those for assault, possession of an article with intent to cause injury, possession of knives and other articles, threatening to kill or cause serious injury.
He also had a number of convictions for possession of drugs for sale or supply, and was on bail for such an offence when he attempted to murder Mr Philips.
Mr Justice Sheehan said the seventeen year sentence imposed would begin at the conclusion of the three year sentence for drug dealing that Mason is currently serving in prison.
He also sentenced Mason to concurrent terms of 14 years with respect to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Mr Philips and 12 years for the possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.