Sunday 4 December 2016

'Man who shot innocent dad dead in street row should still be in prison'

Conor Duffy was just 16 when he borrowed a gun and shot O'Kane in a laneway in January 2008

Conor Feehan and Ryan Nugent

Published 13/08/2016 | 11:06

Conor Duffy served five years for killing Aidan O'Kane
Conor Duffy served five years for killing Aidan O'Kane
Conor Duffy

The release of a man who shot a father to death near his home after just five years in prison has been criticised by a group that supports victims of crime.

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Aidan O'Kane (50) died after being shot once in January 2008 after a row with a group of local youths who had been hanging around his home on Shelmalier Road.

Conor Duffy was just 16 when he borrowed a gun and shot O'Kane in a laneway.

His trial was held in 2011 and he was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter after being acquitted of murder.

Lane where Aidan O' Kane was shot
Lane where Aidan O' Kane was shot

Now aged 24, he was released from jail last month.

But his release after serving five years has been criticised by AdVic chairman John Whelan.

Deterrent

AdVIC is a not-for-profit group formed in 2005 to ensure that the rights of families of homicide victims are not ignored within the criminal justice system, and to bring about a fairer, more balanced system for such families.

"Anyone who points a loaded gun at someone, pulls the trigger and kills them should be prepared to spend a very long time in prison, but in this instance it shows that you can walk free after five years. What sort of deterrent is that?," he asked.

"This is something that is traumatic for families of the victim, and it shows what little value the justice system puts on human life.

"We live in a society where the justice system doesn't care about the victim in my opinion."

Mr Whelan said there is no way to be sure that Duffy is now rehabilitated after such a short period in prison - and that sentences should be stricter.

"At the end of the day, we don't know [if he's rehabilitated]," he said.

"I don't think the system is robust enough - any violent crime should carry stronger sentences," he added.

Aidan O'Kane was shot after the last in a series of altercations with youths in the East Wall area, and later died in hospital.

He had been living on Shelmalier Road for 10 months with his son, Dylan (25), and a friend.

In a victim impact statement Aidan's brother Barry O'Kane described how the victim had befriended local youths and was always willing to share his knowledge and love of mechanics, electronics and computers with them.

Before the shooting he had been approached by community workers to consider taking part in a scheme to teach local youths about motorbike mechanics and he was excited about the prospect.

Mr O'Kane said his brother had great patience and never had a bad word to say about anyone.

The trial heard that Duffy was among a number of youths in the area when Mr O'Kane's house was attacked with eggs.

Mr O'Kane had later come out of the house wearing a balaclava and some youths wrongly believed a baton he was carrying was a gun.

Duffy said he had previously been threatened by Mr O'Kane, who believed he had stolen his bike.

On the night he killed Mr O'Kane, he said he believed had a gun.

Victim

He said wanted to frighten Mr O'Kane and got a gun himself but he claimed he never meant to kill him and was aiming for his leg when he shot.

Duffy's release comes as the widower of another innocent murder victim has hit out at his wife's killer being released after serving 20 years in jail.

Ray Quinn's wife Joyce was killed in 1996 by Kenneth O'Reilly, who is due out next year.

Mr Quinn told the Herald that in Ireland a life sentence does not mean life.

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