'Nine years, and I never get to see his face again,' wife's anger as man jailed over 'pedigree chihuahua' killing
The wife of a man who was beaten to death with an axe had to be removed from court when his killer was sentenced to nine years in prison.
On hearing the sentence handed down by Justice Patrick McCarthy at the Central Criminal Court Lisa Nevin became emotional and began screaming.
She could be heard saying: "Nine years, and I never get to see his face again." Her family and gardai tried to get her to be quiet before she was taken out of court.
At a trial last month Cluskey (25) from Mooretown, Ratoath, Co Meath was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter for killing Christopher Nevin outside a house no Tailteann Road in Navan on November 19, 2015.
His co-accused Josh Turner (24) also from Mooretown, Ratoath, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. During the trial it emerged that the fight happened after Josh Turner loaned Christopher Nevin a male chihuahua to breed with three female chihuahuas. When only one of the dogs got pregnant there was a dispute over how much money Mr Nevin would pay to Turner.
At today's hearing Justice McCarthy said the appropriate sentence for what Cluskey did would be 12 years but he was reducing it to nine having taken into account his offer of a plea of guilty to manslaughter before the trial began.
He said the jury's decision meant that they accepted that Cluskey believed he was using reasonable force in self defence when he took an axe from the back of his car and ran into Christopher Nevin. He said CCTV shown to the trial showed that there was a confrontation between Josh Turner and Christopher Nevin. Mr Nevin was holding a hatchet and shouting at Josh Turner.
However, Justice McCarthy said there was no need for Cluskey's intervention because there was some distance between Turner and the deceased.
After Cluskey ran in he grappled with Mr Nevin on the ground and Cluskey appeared to drop the axe. As Cluskey and Nevin struggled on the ground Josh Turner picked up the axe and struck Mr Nevin a number of blows before Cluskey got free, pulled a hatchet from Christopher Nevin's hands and used it to strike Mr Nevin twice.
He said, in those circumstances, the fact that he thought he was using reasonable force does not dilute his guilt to the extent it might in other cases. "This is, in terms of manslaughter, very serious indeed," he said, adding that it is made worse by the weapon that Cluskey brought to the fight.
He noted the impact statements made by Lisa Nevin and Christopher's mother Mary Nevin, in which they described how their lives and families were broken by his death. He also said he had considered the fact that Cluskey handed himself into gardai but said he was not impressed by the fact that he then gave the gardai a "version of events that was manifestly untrue".
In handing down sentence he said sentencing is not an act of vengeance but must be balanced with the need for rehabilitation. He said the appropriate sentence would be 12 years but taking into account the early offer of a plea of guilty to manslaughter he would reduce it to nine years.
The sentence was backdated to November 23, 2015 when Cluskey first went into custody.