Tragic case with no winners ends in tears of relief
Published 18/02/2010 | 05:00
SHE wept quietly and intermittently throughout yesterday's sentencing hearing, but Caroline Brennan's cries rang around the courtroom the moment her father begged the judge for mercy.
"End the family's suffering," Bill Brennan pleaded.
Later, there were tears of relief and hugs for her family after she was told she was free to go, that the manslaughter conviction returned by a jury on Tuesday evening was not going to result in jail.
Her father had told her trial that she was bullied from an early age by her brother Michael, whom she ended up stabbing to death on that early December morning in 2008.
Michael would be violent after drinking alcohol -- a situation exacerbated by drugs -- and he was barred from every pub in town.
The dead man had twice been sent for rehabilitation in relation to his drink and drug problems. However, he was evicted both times, for using cannabis and breaking the rules.
Michael's father recounted last week how Michael used to bully the younger members of the family, including Caroline and her younger sister.
"You wouldn't know what he would do next. He could belt one of the younger ones," he said.
He had to order Michael out of the house about a year before he died because of his ongoing violent, drunken behaviour.
Caroline's boyfriend Keith Byrne had stood by her since the fatal stabbing, the court heard, and she had gone to live with his parents in Dublin.
Keith's father, Gerard Byrne, also asked the court for leniency.
There were more tears from Caroline and her family as he spoke about how life deals different cards to different people. "Caroline was not dealt a very attractive hand. She had to live in a home with a violent brother who beat and abused her."
He described the young woman as quiet and pleasant, and who had become part of his family, before asking the judge to give her a second chance.
"No person is perfect and Caroline is no exception."
Caroline Brennan's solicitor said there were "no winners" in the case and that Caroline and her family felt "a continuing loss".