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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Man whose mother was murdered 12 years ago petitions for longer prison sentences

Published 18/07/2014 | 23:39

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Ronan Quinn’s mother Christine was stabbed to death in her Kilkenny home by 18-year-old Mark Costigan in 2002.

A man whose mother was murdered 12 years ago is petitioning the government to introduce longer prison sentences for those found guilty of murder and manslaughter.

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Ronan Quinn’s mother Christine was stabbed to death in her Kilkenny home by 18-year-old Mark Costigan in 2002.

Having been sentenced to life in 2004, Costigan was eligible for parole in 2012.

Ronan – who was 14 when his mother was murdered – says the experience was hard for him.

“It just dragged the whole thing back up again for me,” he said.

Victims of homicide can write to the parole board before hearing, outlining how they are still affected by the death of a loved one.

“My Auntie did it and answered on my behalf, it was just too hard for me,” said Ronan.

Costigan will again be eligible for parole next year.

Ronan’s petition – “Tougher Sentencing for Homicide cases in Ireland” – was published on change.org two months ago, and has achieved 831 signatures.

Ronan says he is “on target” to reach his 1,000-signature target.

The petition calls for:

• Those convicted of murder or manslaughter to serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole.

• The abolition of the 25 per cent remission for those convicted of murder or manslaughter.

• The adoption of non-statutory sentencing guidelines for homicide cases, to ensure that consistent criteria are applied when judges are sentencing for manslaughter or murder.

The Criminal Justice Act 1999 introduced a mandatory ten year sentence for those found guilty of the possession of €13,000 worth of drugs for. Those found guilty of murder are typically eligible for parole applications after seven years.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Ronan. “As I’ve always said, life should mean life. Now, life means seven years,” he claimed.

Ronan’s petition also calls for the introduction of a violent offenders register, similar to the sex offenders register, so as to monitor the behaviour of those convicted of violent crimes.

Moving forward, Ronan intends to print hard copies of his petition, and begin canvassing with homicide victims charity Advic:

“I’ve managed to get the signatures on the petition through Facebook. I’m starting to reach out to people with no internet connection.”

Ronan has been liaising with Labour TD Anne Ferris, Independent TD Finian McGrath and Junior Minister Ann Phelan, and hopes to present his petition to the Department of Justice in Autumn.

Ronan lives in Kilkenny with his four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.

You can sign his petition at:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/tougher-sentencing-for-homicide-cases-in-ireland

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