Murder cases reach eight-year high
Fifty-three new murder cases came before the courts last year, the highest for eight years.
Of the cases disposed of last year, guilty pleas were entered in 15 while 31 went to trial.
Three defendants were found not guilty by reason of insanity after trial, while one was acquitted. Eighteen of the defendants in the remaining cases were convicted of murder.
Nineteen life sentences were imposed, while four defendants were sentenced for periods of more than 10 years.
Victims' group, the Advocates for Victims of Homicide in Ireland (ADVIC), last night described the rise in murder cases as "appalling".
"It's worrying that there seems to be a general rise in violence and that some people think the way to solve a problem is to kill them," ADVIC joint secretary Joan Dean said.
Thirty-one people -- a 40pc jump -- appeared before the Special Criminal Court, which deals mainly with gangland activity.
That figure was the highest since 2004 and the cases were mostly for "membership of an illegal organisation", the report said.
Possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosive substances accounted for the other offences.
The Circuit Criminal Court dealt with 954 drugs offences -- that's an increase of 23pc on 2008.
In the District Court, there was a 12pc jump in drugs offences, with 17,620 cases coming before judges.
The Circuit Criminal Court (CCC) also dealt with 1,586 cases involving theft and robbery -- an increase of 28pc.
Offences involving child abuse and child trafficking rose by just 10 in 2008 to 397 last year.
Two cases each involved more than 180 offences.
Meanwhile, the High Court dealt with 320 European Arrest Warrant applications, an increase of 40pc.
Rape cases fell to their lowest level since 2005 with 49 cases -- down 37pc.
Driving offences were down 6pc, while drink driving offences fell by 13pc.