Tuesday 25 October 2016

'A total injustice' - Family of GAA player stabbed to death furious as killer freed after just four years

Deborah McAleese

Published 10/08/2016 | 08:07

Guilty: Gary Moane
Guilty: Gary Moane
Victim: Ciaran Woods

The family of a talented Gaelic footballer stabbed to death at a house party have spoken of their devastation that his killer has been freed from jail after just four years.

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Father-of-one Ciaran Woods (37) pleaded for his life moments before he was knifed twice through the heart by violent criminal Gary Moane in July 2010.

Moane then hunted down a terrified female witness and stabbed her in the stomach as she tried to hide from him in a car.

The 41-year-old, who was obsessed with knives, had 36 previous convictions for violence at the time of the attack at a house in the village of Tempo outside Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was warned by a judge that he might never be released from prison because he was a danger to the public.

But last week, four years into an indeterminate sentence, Parole Commissioners ruled that he had made "satisfactory progress" and could now be released from jail "on a full-time, unaccompanied basis".

"You try to move on with your life and then you see that justice has not been done, we just can't believe it," said Mr Woods' younger brother John.

"Moane claimed diminished responsibility because he was drunk at the time. So does that mean that if you do something so severe as kill someone, if you say you were drunk then you get away with it? I know people have to be rehabilitated, but four years for killing my brother, is that justice?" the 30-year-old asked.

Ciaran Woods (back left) with brother John (back right) at GAA celebration
Ciaran Woods (back left) with brother John (back right) at GAA celebration

Moane had been drinking heavily on July 19, 2010 in Lisnaskea when he fell into Mr Woods' company.

He followed Mr Woods, another man and a woman to a house party in Tempo. During the party he turned violent and armed himself with a knife. Mr Woods begged for his life and pleaded: "Don't, don't be doing that, I've got a seven-year-old daughter."

Moane stabbed him twice through the heart. As Mr Woods lay dying on the kitchen floor Moane turned on the other two people in the house.

The man managed to escape into a nearby field while the woman attempted to hide in a car. However, Moane smashed the window of the car and stabbed her in the abdomen. She managed to escape and raise the alarm with a neighbour.

In September 2012 Moane was sentenced to a minimum of five years in jail. The sentencing judge imposed an indeterminate sentence because of the danger he posed to the public at the time.

Anyone subject to an indeterminate sentence can only be released when the Parole Commissioners are satisfied they no longer pose a risk to the public.

"He had 36 previous convictions and was on bail when he killed my brother. How many chances can you get? It is ridiculous," added John.

"I was really close to Ciaran. I looked up to him. He was setting all these sporting records and he was always coaching me. I looked up to Ciaran, I always admired him. He was strong and athletic. It was hard when he died.

"It was early in the morning when I got the phone call. I was stunned. The worst thing was I had to ring my brother Marty who lives in New York and break the news. As a family we had been through a death before. Another brother had died in a car accident. Time is a great healer and you kind of accept it. But then there is this terrible injustice."

He added: "His sentence does not reflect the consequences of his crime on our family. I'm also worried about my mother and father. They have had a rough enough life. I just want to highlight the total injustice that exists in the system. I just hope somebody addresses it."

Belfast Telegraph

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