Two men who subjected man to 'degrading and sadistic attack' have sentences reduced
TWO violent drug dealers who kidnapped an addict and subjected him to a “degrading and sadistic attack” have had their sentences reduced on appeal.
Aurelius Zrielskies’s and Gintautas Bagdonas’s victim was so badly beaten that he almost had to have his arms amputated.
An investigative garda told the original trial that it was "the most horrendous assault" he had seen in his 28 years on the force.
"I've never seen anything like this," Inspector Michael Coppinger said. "I've never seen this type of violence visited on another human."
But the Criminal Court of Appeal (CCA) ruled today that a trial judge “fell into error” when he sentenced both men to 12 years’ imprisonment for false imprisonment.
Zrielskies (39) and Bagdonas (35), both originally from Lithuanian, had beaten their victim with a sledgehammer, urinated on him
and put a metal rod in his anus at Francis Cottage, Menlo, Co Galway.
Both men were later charged with false imprisonment and a section 4 assault of their victim, whom they had kidnapped and attacked in May 2010 over a €2,200 drug debt.
They had originally denied both charges but changed their plea to guilty to false imprisonment and a lesser charge of a section 3 assault during their trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in May 2012.
Imposing a 12-year term for false imprisonment, with two years suspended, and a four-year sentence for assault on both men, trial Judge Desmond Hogan said: “These gentlemen are thoroughly unpleasant, bad people.
"They carried out a sinister, premeditated, degrading and sadistic attack to enforce their authority through fear in the murky drug underworld from which they crawled."
But the three-court CCA ruled that Mr Justice Hogan had “fell into error” with the 12-year term for kidnaping.
Presiding judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said false imprisonment was a “serious offence that merited a serious sentence”.
But she added that the punishment imposed by Mr Justice Desmond for the crime could “not stand as it is now”.
Ms Justice Dunne said: “It is the view of the court that he appropriate sentence for false imprisonment is 10 years.”
Suspending the final three years of the sentence the judge noted that both men were “making good use of their time” in prison, adding that both would have to serve a probationary period of 18 months after their release.
Patrick Gageby SC, for the Zrielskis, told the court that the injuries inflicted by his client on the victim would have “qualified for assault causing serious harm” and not merely “harm” which was the charge both men had admitted.
Mr Gageby added: “ The assault is at the centre of the criminal wrong doing here”, adding that, in his submission, the trial judge had “amplified” the false imprisonment sentence by “250 per cent” to make up for the fact that his client had plead guilty to a section 3 assault charge as opposed to a section 4 charge.
Mr Gageby added: “A person must not be sentenced for an offence for which he is not charged. It is not for the court to speculate why more serious charges were not brought.”
Roisin Lacey, counsel for the DPP, told the court that the intention of both accused in kidnapping and attacking their victim was to “persuade others to toe the line and stay in the drugs business”.
She said that there had been nothing “ad hoc, opportunistic or spur of the moment” about the false imprisonment and that it had been “premeditated and planned”.
She said: “The true nature was an abduction and had to be dealt with at the higher end of the scale for false imprisonment.”